Police Use Less-Lethal Weapons to Deal With Roanoke Standoffs - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Police Use Less-Lethal Weapons to Deal With Roanoke Standoffs

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In two standoffs this week, tactical police teams used ‘less-lethal weapons' to help arrest suspects.

A popping sound scared many people during Tuesday night's standoff in a Roanoke City neighborhood.

"I thought something bad was happening and I feared for his life," neighbor Peter Jennings said.

Jennings lives just across the street and knows the man at the center of all of this, 25-year-old Jonathan Poff.

"You could hear, 'Jonathan Poff, come out the front door slowly,' and that was unnerving for me and I'm sure for the rest of the neighbors," Jennings said.

Jennings, like many others that night, thought police had used gunfire.

After talking to the Roanoke City Tactical Team, who negotiated with Poff for hours, we know the police took an alternative route to what they say "works toward the preservation of life." The last option is deadly force.

The tactical team used two cans of gas and a less-lethal 40 millimeter weapon.

Roanoke City Tactical Commander Aleutian Bob Chandler showed us the 40 millimeter impact rounds from the less-lethal weapon used in the standoff, and then a second option of small lead BBs, which fire out of a 12-gauge shotgun.

"You may not notice a whole lot of difference from gunfire," Chandler said. "Bystanders get confused because it's a very similar sound, although the results are much different."

These two options, the lieutenant says, can cause bruising at most.

He says his team will also exhaust all other options before ever using actual gunfire.

"Things tend to go in streaks sometimes," Chandler says. "If you look back, you probably won't be able to find a standoff in several months. This is still a pretty safe place to live and we don't have a lot of them, but every now and then it's hot, it's muggy, and sometimes people's emotions get the best of them. It just tends to run in cycles."