Broken windows and busted-down doors at a mobile home in Cumberland Township were already boarded up on May 26, a day after its resident held police at bay during a nearly 12-hour standoff before he died shortly after being removed from the house.
As of press time, state police has released few details about the situation that ended with Jeffry Christopher’s death in the back of an ambulance after troopers pulled him from his residence at 76 Route 88 Mobile Home Park about 9:15 a.m. May 25 following the lengthy standoff.
According to court documents, Christopher fired two gunshots at officers early on May 25 after Cumberland Township police were called to his house when a family member phoned 911 for a mental welfare check about 10 p.m. May 24.
Belinda Pyles, who lives across the road from Christopher’s mobile home, said she was awakened about 2 a.m. May 25 after police officers knocked on her door and told her that she and anyone else in her house had to leave immediately. Pyles grabbed her grandson and dog, and they left with an officer through her backyard and waited at a nearby store as the standoff went on for hours, she said.
They watched as the state police’s specialized response team geared up with body armor and weapons, and deployed an armored vehicle that approached Christopher’s mobile home and punched holes into the walls, windows and doors when he refused to surrender.
Pyles was permitted to return home shortly before noon May 25 after police said the situation was over. She later spoke to a woman who identified herself as Christopher’s daughter, who said he died in the ambulance while being transported to a local hospital.
Christopher, 59, was pronounced dead at WHS-Greene hospital around noon May 25. Greene County Deputy Coroner Marty Yoskovich said an autopsy was performed May 26, but the results would not be known for five to six weeks.
The daughter, whom Pyles did not know or identify, told Pyles that she called police for help when her father was acting strangely and appeared to be suffering from mental health issues.
Upon returning to her home, Pyles could smell a strong odor in her neighborhood after state police apparently had filled Christopher’s house with a smoke irritant to get him to leave the residence and end the standoff.
“If you walked by there, you could smell it really strong,” Pyles said of the unidentified substance.
She said Christopher had told her during previous conversations that he had COPD and at times struggled to breathe, especially on hot days. Pyles said he had lived at the house for about a year, and that he had acted “weird” during previous encounters with her.
She marveled at the scene across the road from her house as she stood on her front porch and looked over at Christopher’s ravaged mobile home that was boarded up and missing exterior siding in some places with curtains and wooden boards strewn across the yard.
“It was a mess,” Pyles said of what was left of Christopher’s house. “Nothing like this has ever happened in our neighborhood.”
Trooper Forrest Allison said last week that state police in Washington would be leading the investigation, but he declined to provide more details about how the standoff ended or what may have led to Christopher’s death.