A man who shot a wild animal in the garage of his upper Black Rock Turnpike home Wednesday afternoon touched off brief, but frantic, police activity at the scene when he apparently refused officers' orders to put down his rifle.
Police were dispatched to 3840 Black Rock Turnpike shortly after 1:30 p.m. when tenants at the property reported that they believed the owner -- William Hanford -- was threatening to shoot their cat.
It was not clear in the aftermath, however, if Hanford, 76, had actually threatened to shoot the cat, but police said he did shoot and kill a wild opossum or woodchuck in the garage.
Meanwhile, police received reports from neighboring properties that gun fire could be heard in the Hanford yard.
According to Police Chief Gary MacNamara, police initially were told by callers that two dogs were shot, while another report was that one animal was already dead and a second was in danger. Police determined, however, that only the wild animal was killed.
He said a tenant at the property was putting items in her car in the garage when she said she was confronted by her landlord, Hanford, who had a rifle that she said he pointed at her. She said he also asked her where her cat was and, as she turned to go back into the house, heard the sound of rifle being loaded, according to the report.
MacNamara said there were also statements made indicating that Hanford may have been considering suicide, and another tenant reported that Hanford was "haphazardly waving the rifle around."
Officers arriving on scene told the suspect to put down the .22 rifle, and when he refused, he was forcibly disarmed and taken into custody.
Hanford was taken to a hospital for medical evaluation and treatment for a cut on his head that he suffered when officers tackled him.
He was charged with second-degree threatening, first-degree reckless endangerment, interfering with an officer, breach of peace and discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a residence.
Meanwhile, MacNamara said, officers will search Hanford's home for additional firearms as soon as a warrant is signed. If there are any guns, they will be seized for safekeeping, he said.
Police have visited the house on several earlier occasions because of issues between Hanford and his tenants.
A section of Black Rock Turnpike was closed to traffic for about 25 minutes until Hanford was taken into custody.
"This is a busy street, and the houses are close together," MacNamara said. "Discharging a firearm in this area is very reckless. Thankfully, none of our officers or residents were physically hurt."