Ashley Smith was on her way home Tuesday night from Newtown, where she works at a hair salon, when her husband, Zach, called and told her that police have blocked the entrances to the Jefferson on the Creek apartments where they live.
"I got as far as the 7-Eleven on Davisville and Maple," Smith said. "Zach was in lockdown at the apartment with our dog, and he kept me updated about what was going on."
What he described was the major police activity happening right outside their door as township and county tactical forces surrounded one of the units at the apartment complex where police say Andrew Cairns, 49, barricaded himself in his second floor apartment and shot at officers.
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Officers responded to a report of gunfire at 7:40 p.m. Tuesday night and were fired upon while approaching the 2000 building in the complex.
A 90-year-old woman living in the downstairs unit was struck during the exchange and died from her wounds on the scene, Warminster police reported, but it has not been determined whether the bullets came from the Cairns or the police. After seven hours of negotiations, Cairns, the alleged gunman, surrendered to the officers at 2:30 a.m., police said.
During the standoff, officers evacuated between 30-50 residents in the 2000 building and 1900 building and directed them to an emergency shelter set up by the Red Cross at William Tennent High School.
John Augustine, who has lived for the past five years in one of the townhouses located at the front half of the complex, remained in his home during the ordeal. He felt relatively safe with his distance from the apartment building and was not comfortable leaving his home so soon after receiving surgery on his knee.
A frequent walker when the weather is right, Augustine knew Cairns and the deceased woman by their faces, but not their names. His occasional encounters with Cairns left Augustine with an uneasy feeling.
"I've seen him around here," said Augustine, as he watched detectives investigate the scene of the shooting.
Tuesday night's violent incident did not discourage Augustine as a homeowner at Jefferson on the Creek, saying that it was not indicative of life in the apartment complex.
"It's really rare for the police to come into here," said Augustine, a Warminster resident for 35 years. "About 90 percent of the time it's for domestic issues. There's no drugs and not a lot of nighttime activity here."
Cairns has been arraigned on 11 charges, with four felony counts including criminal attempted homicide, assault of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault, and discharge of a firearm inside an occupied structure, plus six misdemeanors of recklessly endangering another person. He could not post bond on his $10 million bail and is currently confined to the Bucks County jail.