Standoff comes to a peaceful conclusion

By Dick Mason February 24, 2014 11:26 am

Law enforcement officers from Union and Baker counties converge on Leffell Road Saturday for a hostage standoff situation. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Law enforcement officers from Union and Baker counties converge on Leffell Road Saturday for a hostage standoff situation. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Gregory Scott Carter, 47, charged with felony menacing with children present and reckless endangering 

A 5-1/2 hour hostage standoff at a home on Leffell Road in north La Grande ended without incident late Saturday afternoon when a man was taken into custody by law enforcement officers.

Gregory Scott Carter, 47, 62352 Leffell Road, was arrested after allegedly holding four of his children, all under age 18, against their will. Carter was charged with felony menacing with children present and reckless endangering. He also was arrested on a parole violation warrant out of Kentucky.

Carter was taken into custody at about 5:30 p.m. by the Union County Tactical Team which is comprised of Union County Sheriff’s Office officers. The Tactical Team was assisted by the Oregon State Police, the La Grande Police Department and the Northeast Oregon Regional SWAT Team.

Carter was arrested after being negotiated out on to the front porch of the house, said Union County Sheriff Boyd Rasmussen. Carter had access to several firearms. 

“It was a dangerous situation,” Rasmussen said.

A firearm was discharged once during the standoff inside the house but nobody was hurt. 

Rasmussen said he was very happy that the standoff situation was resolved before it got dark. He explained that darkness would have complicated the situation by making it harder to contain the house.

“It would have been more difficult to see what was going on,’’ Rasmussen said.

A search of Carter’s home was conducted following his arrest. Evidence of additional firearms was found in the house, Rasmussen said. 

Law enforcement officers were alerted of the situation at Carter’s home around noon by a member of his family, Rasmussen said. The individual said Carter was distraught and suicidal.

Members of Union County Tactical Team then went to Carter’s home and tried to get him help and address his situation. Carter was uncooperative. 

“He wouldn’t come outside and talk,’’ Rasmussen said.

Law enforcement officials were concerned because they suspected that a firearm was in Carter’s home. Negotiators from Northeast Oregon SWAT Team, the La Grande Police Department, the Baker County and Union County sheriff’s offices were then brought in to work with Carter. 

“It was a very intensive and exhaustive process. Our negotiators did an outstanding job of bringing this to a peaceful conclusion,’’ Rasmussen said.

The four children of Carter’s who were in his home during the standoff are now in the custody of the Department of Human Services.

Carter is in the Union County Jail pending charges which must be formally filed by the Union County District Attorney. A court date will be set after the charges are formally filed.