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Standoff ends in apparent suicide

A man apparently took his own life Saturday evening after a police standoff in the City of Lockport.

Hours earlier, Lockport police, Niagara County sheriff's deputies, a SWAT team and state police responded to a 911 call from a suicidal man on Willow Street who had called to announce his own death -- and may have fatally shot himself while the dispatcher was on the phone.

The dispatcher reported hearing "several loud bangs" while on the phone shortly before 5 p.m., according to Lockport Police Officer Dennis Sobieraski.

After hours of unsuccessful attempts to speak with the man, police fired tear gas into the house, still with no response. When SWAT officers entered at about 11 p.m., they found the man dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

They also found the man's elderly mother in a chair covered with the tear gas powder. She appeared to be suffering from a serious medical condition. She was taken to Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport.

The identities are being withheld until family can be notified, a Lockport police spokesman said Sunday.

In explaining the six-hour time lapse between the 911 call and when police entered the house to find the man's body and his ailing mother nearby, Sobieraski said officers took necessary precautions.

"I believe when the dispatcher was talking to that party, the party who [is believed to have] committed suicide stated there was another person in the house with him. From the standpoint of everyone out there, they really didn't know if he shot himself or shot someone else and was still alive, or just shot several rounds in the air and was still inside," Sobieraski said.

"That's why they played it by the book and did what they had to do."