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Sign Language Used to End Standoff with Hearing-Impaired Man

March 14, 1985

NEWTON, Mass. (AP) _ A man who police say was frustrated by speech and hearing impairments fired four shots in the air and held a gun to his head during a three-hour standoff that ended when two women using sign language persuaded him to surrender.

Officers, some wearing body armor, surrounded the man in a wood Wednesday night but fired no shots, said Police Chief William F. Quinn. No one was hurt.

The man, Patrick G. Scott Jr., 23, who had been living with an aunt in Newton, was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, police said.

In a statement, Quinn said police received an anonymous call at about 8:15 p.m. that a man holding a gun to his head was standing in Centre Street.

The police Civil Disturbance unit and other officers cordoned off about a half-mile of Centre Street.

After trying to communicate with Scott, police discovered who he was and sought help from the Perkins School for the Blind, which also teaches deaf and disturbed children.

Beth Packard and Karen Hern, teachers at the school, went to the scene and communicated with Scott in sign language.

Quinn said the women told Scott that police would not hurt him if he threw his gun away, which he suddenly did and then threw himself on the ground.

Scott was taken to Newton-Wellesley Hospital for evaluation and then was returned to police headquarters, where he was charged.

Police said they didn’t know Scott’s reasons for the standoff, but Quinn said, ″He is emotionally disturbed.″

Police also said Scott often became frustrated by his difficulty in communicating.

Officer Nancy Caruso said she did not know where the gun came from and could not confirm its caliber.

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