Friday, December 15, 2017
Public safety

Tampa Police end Sunday morning standoff

TAMPA — A seven-hour SWAT standoff that prompted police to block streets and evacuate neighbors early Sunday morning ended peacefully in the afternoon with a man's arrest.

Alex Ray Crouse, 41, barricaded himself in a home in the 1300 block of 18th Avenue, according to Tampa police, in a standoff stemming from a domestic abuse report.

His girlfriend left the home and ran to a neighbor's to call the police early Sunday. Officers were dispatched at 6:46 a.m. The woman was transported to an undisclosed hospital and treated for minor injuries.

About 1:15 p.m., officers forced their way into the home where they found Crouse in a back bedroom under a bed and arrested him, authorities said. They would not say whether he was armed.

"He had a violent history," Lt. Kevin Schoolmeester said. "As a precaution, we secured the residence and the perimeter and had our tactical response team come out."

Crouse has a lengthy arrest record, having faced charges dating back into the 1990s of drug possession and trafficking, illegal weapons possession, larceny and battery, including battery on law enforcement officers.

Police evacuated neighbors about 8:30 a.m. and attempted to enter negotiations with Crouse, whom they could hear moving around inside the house.

"Initially, we tried to make contact with him and tried to get him to come out on his own without going through all those steps," Schoolmeester said. "He's been known to have firearms in the past and has resisted arrest in the past with violence."

About 12 nearby houses were evacuated, Schoolmeester said. Some neighbors went to nearby friends' houses while others congregated on the street corner to watch events unfold. Yvonne Garcia said she didn't have time to wash her face that morning before police evacuated her from her house.

Instead, she used a sink at a nearby Whole Foods then came back to wait near the scene.

"They just said there was a subject at 1309 and there could be some shots, and I should leave my house," she said about 11:30 a.m. "I just want to get home. I'm not really afraid. They're going to catch him."

About 15 squad cars covered 18th Avenue through the morning and early afternoon. Neighbors who decided to wait, about 10 of them, made trips to a corner gas station for drinks.

As the standoff stretched into the afternoon, SWAT team members took breaks, one at a time, to stop by their cars and towel off or to buy Gatorade at the gas station.

Ernest Braxton, who lives near the scene, said he was thankful to the police and God for a peaceful resolution.

"It has been a tough day for us today," Braxton said. "It's a sad situation what went on, but I have to keep him and the person that he hurt in prayer."

Braxton said he had met Crouse, who lives behind his house, several times.

"The guy I knew is a nice fellow, a nice guy," Braxton said. "But things happen. That's the way it is.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443. Follow @cljohnst.

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