Man Surrenders in Pompano Beach BBQ-Turned-SWAT Standoff
A Pompano Beach man was arrested for two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm after barricading himself in his house early Saturday, police said, in the second SWAT team situation Broward County has seen in the past few days.
Mark Lee Thornton, 56, was holed up in his home for hours after a party at his house at 3131 NE 14th Ave. took a violent turn, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said.
Thornton told NBC Miami it all began with a rowdy latecomer to a barbeque he hosted Friday night.
“He beat me up, I gave him a beer, and he got violent,” said Thornton, who spoke exclusively to NBC Miami. “He wanted to chop me in the throat, kick me in the balls, and I was like, ‘go away, go away.’”
The BSO said that when two men tried to leave, Thornton would not let them go, and he pulled out a gun and opened fire inside his home.
There was a scuffle, but the two men finally managed to walk to their car and called police at about 2:30 a.m., BSO spokeswoman Dani Moschella said.
After police arrived, they made several attempts to get Thornton to surrender, but he refused.
A full-scale SWAT operation was then put into motion, with officers, armored vehicles, and K-9 dogs arriving on the scene. Thornton said he could not believe it.
“I went to turn my pool pump off, and there are guys back there with lasers, and I got red dots all over me,” he said.
Thornton would occasionally come out of the house but then go back in, Moschella said.
Throughout the early morning, neighbors heard the commotion, but were not sure what was going on.
“We heard them saying, ‘Oh, just come outside,'” explained Denisse Nolasco, who lives nearby, and said she heard police negotiating with Thornton.
Neighbor Charles DeGorge said he had seen police arrive at previous disputes at Thornton’s home before, but never anything like what he saw Saturday morning.
“There’s usually some incidents down there with arguing, and police do show up here and there,” he said.
Police finally convinced Thornton to turn himself in, and he was arrested after a bit of a physical struggle, Moschella said.
The SWAT operation broke down by 8:30 a.m. An hour later Thornton, wearing a blue T-shirt, could be seen standing outside with officers, talking calmly with them.