GREENSBORO — Lindley Park should be back to normal today.
As normal as a neighborhood can be after a 15-hour police standoff Tuesday that startled residents with random gunfire about 5 a.m.
“Pow. Pow. Pow. Pow,” said Debbie Whitman, imitating the sound of the shots.
All day, she stayed inside her home a short walk away from the Westdale Place home where the suspected shooter barricaded himself. Whitman snapped photos of a sniper setting up on her porch.
At about 7:30 p.m., a Greensboro police officer told her to go inside, turn off the lights and close the blinds, Whitman said. Officers were close to arresting the man.
“Get down on your knees! Get down on your knees!” Whitman heard them yell. “We didn’t hear shots at all.”
And so a day that began with gunfire and uncertainty ended peacefully.
About 7:40 p.m., the unclothed man walked onto the porch at his home at 421 Westdale Place and sat in his rocking chair. A police dog grabbed the man, who was able to escape and run back into his home. The High Point Special Response Team ran inside and tackled the man, who resisted arrest, said Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller.
Police charged Jimmy Albert Burleson, 41, with attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer.
Burleson was transported to Moses Cone Hospital to be checked and assessed by mental health physicians, Miller said. He will remain there until doctors deem him capable of being released to police and placed into the Guilford County jail.
Some Lindley Park residents said they saw Burleson walking his two dogs in the neighborhood. He was a chiropractor, they said.
Some neighbors, who didn’t want to be identified, said they saw Burleson last weekend behaving erratically.
They said he spoke very intently for about half an hour about odd topics, often switching quickly from one to another.
The neighbors said they weren’t afraid of him, but were put off by that behavior. Residents of between 10 and 15 homes nearby Burleson’s had been evacuated or blocked from their homes for most of Tuesday. They were on high alert, using social media to find news and share stories of how they heard the first shots that rang out that morning.
Danielle Hatfield and her husband, Brandon Pierce, were startled by the gunfire, although they don’t live as close as Whitman. Shootings aren’t common in the area.
“I heard shots,” Hatfield said. “Then it went bam, bam, bam. Then I heard about three or four more. I just kind of looked at him, and said ‘Are they gunshots?’”
She quickly tried to justify it, thinking the sounds came from firecrackers.
“You don’t expect to be concerned with whether or not you’ve got to run out of bed and hit the floor.”
Evacuated residents were taken by bus to the police substation at Swing Road, where police and Greensboro’s American Red Cross chapter looked after them.
“My understanding is they were pretty much told to get warm clothes and come on out,” said American Red Cross spokeswoman Melanie McDonough.
Some of the evacuees later found shelter with friends or relatives, McDonough said. The Red Cross housed a family of six at a local church after the police substation closed at 5 p.m.
All of the residents were allowed to return home Tuesday night, Miller said.
McDonough said Red Cross volunteers not only fed the families, but more than 100 first responders who took over the parking lot at Lindley Park Baptist Church. Mental health volunteers also counseled the evacuees.
“They know this neighbor,” McDonough said. “I can’t imagine, but put yourselves in their situation. Can you imagine the neighbor doing this? They’re worried for their neighbor. Never in a million years could they see this happening.”
Police initially surrounded Burleson’s house off Walker Avenue after police say he fired an automatic weapon at 13-year-veteran officer C. Stevens Jr., hitting his patrol car several times. Miller said he saw at least two bullet holes himself.
Miller said a neighbor called police at 5:07 a.m. Tuesday to report hearing a man “calling out to God” while sitting on his porch with a gun.
When officers arrived, Miller said, the man went into his house and fired several shots. The man then came back outside and fired several times at the officer.
Miller said the officer returned fire with a handgun and shotgun.
The man retreated inside and failed to answer officers’ instructions to leave the home unarmed and with his hands in the air, according to a police news release. Police said the man was naked.
Police earlier fired tear gas inside the house, but it was not successful in getting the man out.
Burleson talked with police through a robot inside the house that is equipped with an audio/video link.
Police officers watched and spoke to him throughout the day, trying to resolve the situation without force.
Greensboro police had been trying to negotiate with the man, but needed relief from other area agencies.
Greensboro police tactical teams were replaced midafternoon by teams from the High Point Police Department and Guilford County Sheriff’s Office. The Winston-Salem Police Department let Greensboro officers use their robot when the battery died on the Greensboro robot, Miller said.
The High Point team eventually arrested Burleson.
“The situation ended, I think, peacefully,” Miller said. “Certainly the way we wanted it to end, with nobody being seriously injured, either police officers or innocent neighbors.”
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