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September 26, 2013
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Douglas County sheriff's deputies testify about tense standoff with gunman

Douglas County sheriff’s deputies Wednesday recounted their dramatic standoff with a man accused of greeting them with a gun when they came to evict him from a Roseburg trailer.

Three deputies testified on day one of Henry “Hank” John Kuester’s trial in Douglas County Circuit Court. The 64-year-old is accused of pointing a firearm at deputies after they forced their way into his home in the 2200 block of Booth Avenue on Aug. 7.

The three-hour standoff ended with sheriff’s deputies using an explosive device and tear gas to force Kuester out of the trailer and into custody. Kuester has been in the Douglas County Jail since his arrest.

In early August, the sheriff’s office received orders to evict Kuester and approached the job cautiously, according to testimony Wednesday.

Five deputies in two marked sheriff’s office SUVs parked about 25 yards from the older, singlewide trailer.

Sgt. Kelley Bean said he told Kuester over a public-address system that they were there to evict him. Deputies also had an arrest warrant charging him with failing to keep a court date on another matter.

Kuester didn’t respond. The deputies waited 15 to 20 minutes before approaching the back porch from behind a shield and moving around to the locked front door, Bean said.

Bean testified he punched a hole in the door with a bolt-cutter and forced the door to partially swing open with a second blow.

Sgt. Jeff Frieze testified he stuck his head in the trailer, looked left, looked right and when he looked left again he saw Kuester holding a gun pointed downward but toward the deputies.

Frieze shouted “gun,” and the deputies retreated to call in reinforcements.

In the meantime, Kuester called an emergency dispatcher who transferred the call to one of the deputies outside the trailer.

Kuester talked with the deputy for about 20 minutes before hanging up. He called back, however, and talked to another deputy for almost an hour, Bean said.

“We decided he wasn’t going to come out without escalation on our part,” Bean said.

The Douglas County SWAT team used a “flashbang” to disorient Kuester and then shot tear gas into the trailer.

About a minute later Kuester came out and surrendered, according to deputies.

Kuester is charged with unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, pointing a firearm at another, obstructing government administration and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The jury trial continues today.

• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or by email at bswanback@nrtoday.com.

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The News-Review Updated Sep 26, 2013 12:41PM Published Sep 27, 2013 05:31PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.