March 21, 2018

Gunman’s Death Ends Standoff With Police

By Donald Gilpin and Anne Levin

A four and a half-hour standoff between police and an armed gunman at Panera Bread on Nassau Street ended shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday when the man was fatally shot by police.

The man entered Panera Bread on Nassau Street with a handgun around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and made threats as customers and employees fled. Police secured the perimeter of the restaurant. 

The immediate area of Panera was evacuated, and Nassau Street between Witherspoon Street and Washington Road was closed for most of the day. The Princeton Police Department, state police, and the FBI were all at the scene, attempting to negotiate with the man and persuade him to surrender peacefully.

Police quickly reported that the situation was contained within the restaurant with no threat to public safety. The public was advised to stay away from the area until further notice.

At press time, the identity of the deceased man was being withheld pending notification of family members. No further details of the shooting were released due to the ongoing investigation by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team.

Two Princeton University campus buildings closest to Panera, Henry House and Scheide Caldwell House, were evacuated as a precaution. Few students are around, as University classes are not in session this week of spring break.

Princeton Public Schools (PPS) remained in a shelter in place mode throughout the day, according to PPS Superintendent Steve Cochrane, but the police reported that there was no danger to students, so afternoon dismissal and activities took place as usual.

Princeton Public Library was on lockdown throughout most of the day, but the lockdown was lifted in the late afternoon.

One Nassau Street resident reported seeing a stretcher carried into the restaurant at about 3 p.m., but it was carried out empty within an hour.

According to tweets, customers and staff at stores on Tulane Street, including Princeton Record Exchange and Princeton Barber Shop were told to stay inside.