Standoff in Bovina comes to an end
By Joe Moskowitz
A hostage taking that began Sunday morning, followed by an armed standoff with dozens of police officers in Bovina Center, ended tragically early Monday morning when the hostage taker, Bovina resident Justin Geraghty, 32, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department.
The incident began early Sunday morning. Neighbors of Geraghty say someone apparently ran over his puppy and that incident triggered Geraghty’s rage and the events that followed.
Sources tell the News that Geraghty sent a text message to the mother of his two children, who lives in Virginia, telling her that he was distraught and had a gun. She notified the sheriff’s department who responded to his mobile home, located at the intersection of New Road and county Route 6, between Bovina and Bovina Center. Sources say that Geraghty also called the sheriff’s department and that deputies responded to his home partially from the threatening nature of his call and also because they possessed outstanding arrest warrants on Geraghty and had learned of his location by the calls. As deputies approached his home, Geraghty managed to escape and took off on an ATV, ending up in the backyard of Peter Mullen and his wife Victoria Charkut, just off Pink Street north of Bovina Center.
Charkut told the News that Geraghty confronted them and forced them at gunpoint into their house. She says he used their phone to call the mother of his boys and tell them, “This is the last anyone will hear from me. I’m going to kill myself.” Charkut went on to say, “I thought I was going to die.”
Some time later, Charkut told Geraghty that she had to use the bathroom. She then walked past the bathroom door to another door, which lead outside, and simply walked out to freedom. She then ran down her driveway to Pink Street and flagged down a passing motorist who took her to the Bovina General Store from where she called police and notified them of the hostage situation.
As the police presence in the community quickly grew, the Bovina Community Store became the unofficial home to several area residents who could not return to their homes on Pink Street when police sealed off the area. Officials had ordered a “lockdown” for Bovina residents who were supposed to stay inside and keep their doors locked. But not many knew about it and it was difficult to enforce. In addition, the Mullen-Charkut house was surrounded by police.
Sources tell the News that Mullen, after seeing two police officers near his house, told Geraghty that he was going outside to talk to them, but instead of stopping to talk, he just kept walking to his freedom.
That left Geraghty alone in the house, armed with a single-shot shotgun, facing well over a dozen state police and sheriff’s deputies, an armored vehicle, a state police helicopter, and a state police K-9 unit.
A state police mediator was called in who spoke with Geraghty, but was unable to convince him to surrender. His brother came to the scene and tried to talk him into surrendering, but had no success. Geraghty emerged from the house several times to talk to police, each time holding the shotgun to his own head. He was also seen drinking from a whiskey bottle.
Around 9 p.m., police fired 27 “cold” tear-gas canisters into the house without drawing a response from Geraghty. According to state police, “cold” tear gas is designed to explode without causing fire.
It was at approximately 1 a.m. Monday when law enforcement officers enter and searched the house. They discovered Geraghty’s body, barricaded in a third-floor room of the house. Delaware County Undersheriff Craig S. DuMond said in a press release that Geraghty died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A press release from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department said that Geraghty was wanted by the New York State Division of Parole on an arrest warrant charging him with violation of parole and by the Delhi Police Department on an arrest warrant charging him with first-degree burglary, third-degree assault and petit larceny.
The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the New York State Police Special Operations Response Team (SORT), Mobile Response Team (MRT), Aviation Unit, and K9 Unit, as well as the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police, Walton Village Police Department, Delaware County Department of Emergency Services, Bovina and Delhi fire departments and Cooperstown Medical Transport.