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January 28, 2014

Standoff started with fight over dog, police say

PITTSBURGH — A man tried to shoot his friend, then held state troopers at bay for hours after an argument fueled by alcohol and a disagreement over how to discipline a dog that had urinated inside the man’s apartment, state police said Tuesday.

Matthew Palmeri, 25, of White Township, fired a gun at his friend after they argued over Palmeri’s decision to beat the dog, according to police and online court records.

“This was basically a disturbance call with a report of shots fired that transitioned to a barricaded gunman situation,” said Trooper John Matchik, spokesman for the state police barracks in Indiana.

Palmeri and his friend were together in Palmeri’s apartment, each with his own dog, when the argument erupted, Matchik said.

“When the suspect’s dog urinated on the floor, he hit the dog and the victim objected to that and took both dogs and fled,” Matchik said. “When the victim returned a short time later, an altercation ensued.”

That’s when police said Palmeri and the victim, whom police didn’t immediately identify, struggled over Palmeri’s handgun. Palmeri fired one shot which “flew past the victim’s head” before that man left the apartment and called 911 at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Matchik said.

Police learned that Palmeri had access to assault rifles, including an AK-47, a semi-automatic shotgun and the handgun, which prompted troopers to call out a Special Emergency Response Team, Matchik said.

Palmeri and police did not fire any shots at one another, and he surrendered shortly before 7 a.m.

Police tried unsuccessfully to phone and otherwise contact Palmeri for hours and believe he “may have been passed out or incoherent” from drinking during much of the standoff, Matchik said.

Online court records don’t list an attorney for Palmeri, who was sent to the Indiana County Jail after being arraigned on charges including aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He faces a preliminary hearing Feb. 6.

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