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Livingston Man Who Allegedly Pistol-Whipped Wife Surrenders After Police Standoff

Donald Ebert, 54, surrendered to police after barricading himself in his Wynnewood Road home.

A man who allegedly struck his estranged wife in the back of the head with the butt end of a gun surrendered to police Friday night after a two and a half hour standoff at his Wynnewood Road home, police said.

Authorities were searching for 54-year-old Donald Ebert, after the alleged assault near Morristown Memorial Hospital shortly after noon. He allegedly fled in a white Ford Fusion and ended up at his Livingston home, where he barricaded himself inside and refused to come out, Livingston Police Sgt. Anthony Dippold said. 

Police attempted to negotiate with the suspect for two and a half hours, until Ebert finally agreed to surrender, Dippold said. 

"He surrendered to us, through a negotiator over the telephone," Dippold said. 

Livingston, Madison and Florham Park Police lined the typically quiet, tree-lined suburban street along with SWAT teams from Livingston and Florham Park, Dippold said. 

At approximately 6 p.m., after Ebert agreed to surrender, authorities walked around the back of the two-story house and were heard shouting, "Drop to your knees."

Dippold said Ebert is now in the custody of Livingston police, but all charges will be handled by Morristown authorities. 

Earlier in the afternoon, Ebert was described by Morristown Police Chief Peter Demnitz as "armed, dangerous and possibly suicidal."

Authorities located him late Friday afternoon at his home in Livingston, where he hid inside, closed the shades and pushed heavy items against the door and windows, Dippold said. 

"We responded to the house and there was no sign of him there ... we saw him inside the home through the window," Dippold said. 

Tom Shaw, who lives in the house next door, said he had known Ebert for about a decade. 

Ebert occasionally mentioned problems with his partner, but "we never got the impression that it had come to this, that this would happen," Shaw said. 

Ebert's son played hockey and was drafted by the L.A. Kings, Shaw said. 

"I never had any trouble with him [Don] or the family," said Shaw.

"We always had positive interactions." 

Earlier in the day, Livingston's Heritage Middle School increased police presence during dismissal as a security precaution, a school spokeswoman said. An email blast to parents was also sent out. 

"There is absolutely no threat to students. Because of the proximity to Heritage Middle School and the partial closure of Wynnewood Road, we will have police presence and additional faculty at Heritage and Foxcroft Drive to direct traffic and students," Marilyn Joyce Lehren, communications manager of the school district, said. "School and District officials are working closely with Livingston Police to ensure that all students are safe as they leave school this afternoon."

David Shulkin, president of Morristown Medical Center, released a statement shortly before 2 p.m. Friday letting people know the hospital was working closely with the Morristown Police Department and Morris County Prosecutor's Office "as they investigate an assault on a woman who entered through the hospital's main entrance.

"There was no shooting as previously reported," Shulkin said, referring to early unsubstantiated reports. "The alleged assault did not occur on the hospital campus. For the victim's protection, the Emergency Department has an increased police presence. Morristown Medical Center remains open for patient care."

Hanover Park High School in East Hanover was temporarily locked down as a precautionary measure related to the incident, East Hanover Police Lt. Robert McColgan said, because a vehicle involved in the incident had been believed to be in the area, but there was never any indication the vehicle had been headed for the high school.

In Madison, all schools were locked down shortly before 2 p.m. in connection to the incident and were expected to be closed for the rest of the day.

Morris School District schools remained open after consulting with the Morristown Police Department regarding the incident, a district official said.

Dr. Messina February 02, 2013 at 03:19 AM
As the parent of a Heritage Middle School student, kindly tell me why our school, less than 1/2 mile from the incident, did NOT lock down when three towns en route from the site of the assault at Morristown Memorial Hospital and the man's home in Livingston, did; Madison and Hanover Park. Simply escorting my child to the bus with increased police presence does not equal the precautionary level of a lock-down. The Board of Education building sits closer to the incident than the school. What were you thinking? Considering the national events over the past two months, I expect a higher standard of safety and care to feel comfortable that my children are safe. Livingston, please take the need for higher safety measures seriously.
Thirty Four February 02, 2013 at 12:45 PM
So, what time exactly that Livingston PD knew a Livingston person allegedly used a gun to commit a crime in Morristown? Was it still during school time? The school said like it was around the same time as dismissal. Then why blast email went out at 5:50pm?
millresident February 02, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Messina, I was wondering the same thing myself? If I were a Livingston parent I would not let this go.
Bob February 02, 2013 at 08:36 PM
It is because this town and the BOE puts its priority on spending as much of the tax payer's money as it can on anything other than the safety of its citizens. We have a Palace for a municipal building, and it is filled with nasty employees. We have a history of both a town council and a BOE that are filled with arrogant mean spirited members. Where would anyone think there would be any time or room for genuine consideration of its citizens. I'm sure if this topic was brought up at either meeting one would be publicly ridiculed by eithe the board or council and threatened with expulsion from the meeting. Livingston is just a wonderful place!
Marina Goldin February 02, 2013 at 10:34 PM
I also have a child in Heritage, but I do not feel the same way. Police from other townships did not know what exactly was going on and what to expect, from where etc, that's why they chose to close the schools just in case. Livingston police was actually there surrounding the house, practically keeping situation under control, so it seems to me keeping Heritage school open is appropriate.
Thirty Four February 03, 2013 at 03:24 AM
Marina, Were you around the school at the time? What time did the Heritage school inform parents of the situation? The thing that I was confused about is that the email from the district went out to parents after 5 pm which was also not too long after Patch had the initial breaking news. Wouldn't the school already been long closed by that time? Or the situation started near the school earlier in the afternoon but the district notification and Patch reporting were a few hours delayed?
Marina Goldin February 03, 2013 at 03:35 PM
I got it at 2:23 - not sure why other parents did not get it.. From: <noreply@livingston.org> Date: Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 2:23 PM Subject: Important messsgase from Pat Boland concerning dismissal, today, Friday, 2/1/13 To:
Candid February 03, 2013 at 04:39 PM
IMHO, all these lock downs were overreaction over relatively benign situation: no bullets were fired in the first place; no demands were made; the subject was well contained by the police in his house. This overreaction is mostly covering authorities own asses, since in present climate of habitual anxiety shooting fly with a gun is a politically correct thing to do. Looking forward to being condemned by politically correct masses.
Anna Giambattista February 03, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Funny that I was meeting with Dr. Draeger and the principal at my sons school about the safety at the school right while this was all happening. Isn't Livingston a great place to live and raise your family??
Marie jakes February 17, 2013 at 04:02 AM
Moms need to relax. He obviously was never intending to harm school students . Have a little respect for his family
LC March 10, 2013 at 07:34 PM
I agree with you! Why need a lockdown when the person was contained and it was a domestic matter.
LC March 10, 2013 at 07:35 PM
I agree with you 100%.

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