One person is dead after a standoff in a home on Quarry Road in Gillespie after a situation that started around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday with a 911 call reporting an erratic driver.
Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl told the BenGil Post what occurred Tuesday is a “tragedy” after stopping short of formally announcing the cause of death to the 32-year-old but saying it appears to be self-inflicted. The Macoupin County Coroner’s Office was scheduled to perform an autopsy.
Sheriff Kahl said the male, later identified as Nathan Heaton of Gillespie, went inside the unoccupied house after driving erratically on Quarry and Tower Roads. Officers with the Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois State Police, and Gillespie Police Department were on-scene attempting to coax the suspect out of the home, but they never received a response from the subject.
Heaton reportedly drove recklessly through ditches and cornfields completing donuts and even drove through a power pole breaking it in half and struck a utility service box before stopping at a residence in the 15000 block of Quarry Road. The 911 caller witnessed the male get out of the car and head inside the house leaving his smoking passenger car outside.
“We knew something more was going on than a driver potentially under the influence,” Kahl announced. “It was intentional.” He said most of the damage to property was on Quarry Road although investigators have found some damage on Tower Road as well.
Kahl said communication was made to Heaton’s parents who told officers there would be access to a weapon in the residence and unfamiliar behavior was noticed in the past few days. At that point, Kahl told the BenGil Post he made the decision to contact the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) SWAT team and back away from the house and start forming a perimeter due to a potentially dangerous situation and subject and the lack of cover.
The SWAT team, comprised of members from eight counties, took over the scene around 11:30 a.m. although Sheriff Kahl said he remained on the scene. Police made several attempts to make contact with Heaton through their loudspeakers and a negotiator, but no response was ever received.
“The SWAT team later made cover around 4:30 and made entry into the residence by a SWAT robot who discovered a male subject on the floor that appeared to be unresponsive,” Kahl continued. “Then police followed and confirmed the subject was in fact deceased.”
Crime scene investigators processed the scene and the Macoupin County Coroner’s office pronounced Heaton deceased at 5:15 p.m.
Kravanya Funeral Home in Gillespie is in charge of arrangements. Visitation services will be held on Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. with a memorial service after the visitation. The complete obituary can be read on the BenGil Post here.