Federal and state authorities mass near Salem in standoff

Saturday, September 8, 2001

SALEM, Mo. -- A highway north of Salem remained closed Friday as a federal agents maintained an "enforcement operation" outside a home.

Authorities have not said why agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and U.S. Customs have joined state and county law enforcers outside the home about eight miles north of Salem on Missouri 68 in south-central Missouri.

They arrived there about 2 p.m. Thursday to serve a federal search warrant, and when the resident refused to come outside, authorities began their stakeout, ATF spokesman Larry Scott said Friday. About 100 law enforcement officers, including a negotiator, were at the scene Friday night.

At least two homes located nearby were evacuated sometime after the stakeout began, Scott said.

Scott said multiple people were seen in the house at the beginning of the operation and one person came out Thursday. He could not identify the person who left the house, saying only that the person was not a child and that there were no children in the house.

Scott would not identify the homeowner. He also would not say whether authorities believed there could be weapons inside the home.

Officers secured the area about 8 p.m. Friday and prepared to stay there "as long as it takes to bring this to a successful conclusion," Scott said.

Authorities had closed a three-mile stretch of the highway around the rural home for public safety, Scott said. Reporters were being kept roughly two miles from the scene.

Scott said the warrant was ordered out of the eastern district of Missouri, but he would not say why it was granted or what it involved. Jan Diltz, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in St. Louis, said she could not discuss the warrant.

Meanwhile, agents appeared content to wait for the person inside to surrender.

"Number one is everyone's safety out here," Scott said. "And that is a big concern with everyone involved, and we'll try to resolve this in a peaceful conclusion."

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