ER - 4/15/2006 Music, shots, then silence

ER Music, shots, then silence 4/15/2006
by Heather Muller , 4/15/2006

A woman’s standoff with officers from the Eureka Police Department came to a deadly end Friday when she was shot and killed by police in her G Street apartment above Heuer’s Florist in Eureka.

Cheri Moore was pronounced dead at the scene with multiple gunshot wounds to her chest and pelvis, after repeatedly brandishing an orange flare gun out the window of her third-floor apartment over a period of two and a half hours.

An estimated 100 spectators lined Fifth and Sixth streets while Moore blared stereo music out the windows during the standoff, which began shortly after 10 a.m.

“She’s got her iPod on shuffle or something,” said Darwin Mazur, who ran across the spectacle on his way home from work. “She went from ‘Freeze Frame’ to Diana Ross, and then it was like West Indian pan flute music or something.”

The atmosphere was almost festive as Moore repeatedly leaned out the window, yelling at the crowd.

“My friend wants to come up here,” she yelled, “so why don’t you all just go home and take care of your children.”

The friend in question was Marcus Smith, who spoke to Moore on his cell phone during the ordeal. Smith said Moore was “off her medication” and was having problems with her landlord. He said Moore had told him earlier that the landlord was trying to kick her door in, so she took out her flare gun to protect herself.

“She didn’t sound good at all,” he said.

While Smith was talking to the woman on the phone, he said, “Cheri, there are a lot of cops with a lot of guns out here, and all they know is they think you have a gun up there. You don’t want to get shot. Listen. You do not want to get shot.”

A few minutes later, Smith said a police sergeant asked him to stop talking to the woman, which frustrated him. “I could go up there and talk her down, guaranteed,” he said, shaking his head.

“They’re going to shoot her,” he said. “They’re going to shoot her. Wait and see.”

And so the crowd waited. While G Street was cordoned off and traffic awkwardly rerouted, the Special Weapons and Tactics Team arrived, and a sniper took up a position on the roof of the Dan Marc Building across the street.

EPD officers with M-16s stood at the corners, occasionally ducking behind police vehicles as Moore yelled and threw things out of the window. Papers, clothing and a bicycle helmet were thrown to the ground. A hostage negotiator was called in.

As the standoff trudged into its second hour, other residents of the apartment complex gazed out the windows, occasionally waving at people below in the crowd.

During this time, the sniper on the roof was reporting details of Moore’s behavior to other police, even timing the intervals between her appearances at the window.

Another officer said over the radio, “Just advise when HNT (or hostage negotiations team) is not an option, and then we can resolve it.”

But the “resolution” that followed seemed to take everyone in the crowd by surprise.

At approximately 12:30 p.m., a series of shots sounded — five, maybe six — and seconds later police reported the woman was down. Fire and ambulance personnel, staged nearby, were immediately called in.

It wasn’t until emergency personnel came out of the building without a patient that onlookers began to realize the woman was dead.

Gary Adrian Raines, who identified himself as Moore’s caretaker, slumped onto a bench at Fifth and G streets when he heard the news.

He said Moore had told him she suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and took a variety of prescription medications for the condition. Raines said he knew Moore had a flare gun — “but I didn’t think it would come to this,” he said.

“Just yesterday I got in an argument with her, and I left. I was just going to go see her when I saw all this,” Raines said.

Neighbor Brenda Bernier said Moore had two cats, named Wally and Zenith, and she wondered who would care for them now.

“She was really nice to me,” Bernier said, although she acknowledged that Moore had experienced problems with her medication during the four or more years they both lived in the apartment complex.

Bystanders who had watched the standoff said they were shocked at its fatal conclusion.

“This is not at all what I thought would happen,” Mazur said, who had witnessed the incident from the beginning.

Eureka resident Patricia Powell saw only the end. “It’s tragic,” she said. “It’s beyond tragic.”

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

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