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Crime & Courts

Police: 30-hour Bethel standoff ends with arrest after threats, gunshots, terror

  • Author: Lisa Demer
  • Updated: September 30, 2016
  • Published March 14, 2016

BETHEL — A standoff involving a man reported to be drunk, enraged and shooting a gun with his children inside the house ended early Sunday, 30 hours after it began, with no one hurt and the man under arrest, according to the Bethel Police Department.

Dennis Hensley, 34, a Bethel resident from Hooper Bay, surrendered after what Alaska State Troopers described as a lengthy negotiation. He is being held at Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center on six counts of felony assault and one count of coercion.

Police in the Southwestern Alaska hub of Bethel asked for help from troopers, who initially sent a negotiator based in Aniak. When the man remained barricaded Saturday night, troopers used a state plane to send a relief negotiator from Anchorage, as well as a Southcentral Special Emergency Reaction Team — troopers' version of special forces SWAT responders.

Police, medics and a fire crew all were stationed at the scene for some 30 hours, delaying responses to other calls in Bethel, prosecutor Bailey Woolfstead told a Bethel judge Sunday morning.

The standoff began about 7:40 p.m. Friday when police were sent to a home in Bethel's Quivik subdivision to respond to a report of a man going "crazy," loading his gun and threatening to shoot himself, his children and any police officers who showed up, according to a police statement filed in court.

Officers saw three children leave the house.

"All of the children were crying hysterically and appeared terrified," Sgt. Amy Davis wrote in the statement supporting the charges. The oldest, a 12-year-old, told police she heard her father say that if cops came near the house he would "blow his head off."

Police were setting up a perimeter when they heard a gunshot inside the house, then two more shots. Debris flew up from the porch roof near the perimeter, Davis wrote.

The man screamed at the sergeant over the phone, saying he would murder the police then kill himself, the police statement said.

The man's girlfriend spoke to the man by phone. She told police that they had quarreled about the children and he told her that if she hung up the phone, he would burn down her house. When she told him she was going to seek a restraining order, he said he was going to make sure she and the children were killed too, according to the police statement. He also threatened to rape a 7-year-old, the statement said.

Talks continued into a second night. At 1:31 a.m. Sunday, Hensley was taken into custody by SERT. He is being held on $250,000 bail and a requirement for a third-party custodian.

Hensley used to work in village law enforcement, according to police. He has been convicted of misdemeanor assault and harassment in two earlier cases and also has been the subject of restraining orders, according to court records.

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