Raid Ends Willingboro Standoff

Posted: August 08, 1997

WILLINGBORO — A standoff between township police and a Garfield East resident that lasted more than six hours ended early yesterday without injury after a special unit stormed the man's home.

Police received a report about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday that the man, Willie Grace, 57, of Executive Lane, had a loaded revolver and intended to ``harm himself.'' An unidentified female friend of Grace's reported the matter.

After several unsuccessful attempts to contact Grace by phone, members of the Burlington County Special Response team were called to the scene. They stormed the house at 3:30 a.m. yesterday.

Grace was taken into custody without a shot. Police said no charges had been filed so far and that the incident was still under investigation.

For some neighbors, the hours leading up to the siege were a mix of confusion, fear and curiosity.

Donna Kazmierowicz, who lives across the lane from Grace, watched with her husband from a window in their darkened home as police swarmed the neighborhood. Before the siege began, police evacuated Kazmierowicz, her family and other residents in a fire truck.

``I was shaken up when they told us we had to leave,'' she said. ``They put the kids in front, and we had to run through the yard. It was kind of weird. We had to wear dark clothes and didn't get to put on shoes.''

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