The New Jersey Attorney General’s office has identified the armed man shot by police in Princeton Tuesday as Scott L. Mielentz, 56, of Newtown, PA.
Police shot Mielentz shortly before 3 p.m. after trying to negotiate with him for nearly five hours. The NJ AG has opened an investigation into what it described as an officer-involved shooting.
No motive was offered but Heavy has found by sifting through court documents that Mielentz was being sued by the US government over some $30,000 in disability payments from the Social Security Administration the government said he obtained illegally. Mielentz was also in federal bankruptcy court trying to get that discharged but records show in December of 2017, Mielentz was losing that case. Mielentz had been living in Jersey of late, officials said, but records show he has lived in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, the latter where he had a computer parts and service business, MAC/PC Technocall in 2006. The SSA has a deep file on the history of its involvement with Mielentz including documents that the SSA said show he collected more than tens of thousands of dollars for a disability he does not have. That said, there are reports he was recently hospitalized with an unknown mental or emotional disturbance.
Mielentz entered a Panera Bread restaurant chain on Nassau Street directly across from Princeton University armed. What type of gun he had has not been made public. Employees and diners fled. Local police and then agents from the FBI arrived and the near five hour standoff began. The University closed two nearby campus buildings albeit most Princeton students were on spring break. Police shut down the area and reports began flying including an automatic alert from the school that shots had been fired. The report was inaccurate and quickly corrected. And, despite early reports, Mielentz had not taken hostages and a report he put a gun to someone’s head has also not been confirmed.
The AG said “negotiators attempted unsuccessfully to get the suspect to surrender peacefully. The standoff ended shortly before 3 p.m. when the suspect was fatally shot by police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.”
According to the AG, all investigations into police deadly force incidents in New Jersey have strict investigation protocols and unless the undisputed facts indicate that the use of force was justified, it cold end up before a grand jury for an independent review.
How the incident unfolded:
It was late morning when the first report came that an armed man was in a restaurant across the street from Princeton University. Princeton Police have been in a standoff with the man for almost six hours.
Earlier today, in what was clearly a chaotic and frightening situation in Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University officials said that reports of shots fired are incorrect despite a warning that went out:
In an update at 12:55 p.m., officials said police are “negotiating’ with the armed man.
An image posted by a KYW TV editor on Twitter:
Princeton police said in a recent update that the gunman is still inside the restaurant and police are negotiating with the person. What if any hostages are being held is unclear:
Video of the active scene emerged late Tuesday morning:
What we know so far:
Princeton Police first tweeted for people to avoid Nassau Street.
At 11:40 a.m., Princeton officials said two buildings would be closed as a possible hostage active shooter incident is occurring at a Panera Bread on Nassau Street directly across from the University.
The University said in its morning alert that it would continue to update the campus community as events unfold.
At 11:40 a.m., the university posted:
“Municipality of Princeton police have surrounded an armed man inside the Panera restaurant on Nassau Street, across from campus. Police urge everyone to avoid the area.
Police have shut down neighboring buildings near the restaurant on the north side Nassau Street, which is closed for several blocks.”
“As a precaution, the two campus buildings closest to the restaurant — Henry House and Scheide Caldwell House — were evacuated.
It is not known whether the gunman has any connection to the University.
Classes are not in session, as this is the week of spring break.”
“Further information will be posted on the University homepage as it becomes available. The next update will be posted by 12:45 p.m.”
Suzannah B. Troy posted on Twitter and YouTube that she “heard a police officer say there’s a shot gun to someone’s head inside Panera’s bread…”