MOUNT VERNON — A shot fired while attempted negotiations were underway in a July 12 standoff came from the rifle of a Mount Vernon police officer.
MVPD Chief Roger Monroe reported that Cpl. Mike Wheeler, a sniper with the Emergency Services Unit (ESU), accidentally discharged a rifle while taking up a position. The rifle was fired with the barrel pointed vertically into the air.
Wheeler was not disciplined, but received “counseling and verbal training to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Monroe said. Monroe said it has not been determined where the bullet came down.
The shot was audible to bystanders. At the time the standoff was resolved, MVPD Capt. Scott McKnight, speaking with the News, said it had not been determined where the shot came from.
The shot was the only one fired from a firearm during the eight-hour standoff. Less-lethal ordinance, including flash bombs, were deployed by the ESU.
The shot was fired as police were attempting to negotiate with Vernon Kanode Jr., 22, who had barricaded himself inside a 700 block Follin Avenue, Mount Vernon, apartment. At the time, an officer was crouched behind a van in a driveway a few feet from the apartment, speaking through a megaphone in an attempt to contact Kanode. The officer remained behind the van and continued to try to reach Kanode after the shot.
According to a review of the incident by ESU team commander Sgt. Kit Morgan, the safety on Wheeler’s rifle was not engaged at the time it was loaded. A statement from Wheeler indicates he “brushed” the trigger with his finger while getting into position, causing the rifle to fire.
Prior to the firing, Wheeler states that he checked the visibility of the apartment before loading a magazine in the rifle and chambering a round. Wheeler said he selected a small tree by a fence as a firing position, and while taking a kneeling position, the rifle went off.
Wheeler said he noted the shot was an accident over his radio. After the shot, Wheeler said he cleared the rifle and removed the magazine.
Wheeler said he recreated his movements with the unloaded rifle several times to determine what had happened.
According to Morgan’s review, Wheeler went back into position after command staff determined “he and his equipment were fully operational.”
The standoff began after police received information that Kanode, who was a person of interest in a burglary, was at the residence. Upon arrival, police learned Kanode had barricaded himself inside and had a firearm.
The standoff ended after the ESU forced its way inside and found Kanode hiding in a closet. Kanode was not armed, and no firearm has been recovered.