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.