An Ilion man is dead after a night-long standoff with police. 57-year-old Gene Wedemeyer barricaded himself indoors last night, threatening himself and others. Ultimately, police say he set the house on fire and his body was found inside the home today. Eyewitness News was on the scene throughout last night and is staying on the story.
It all started with a 9-1-1 call from Gene Wedemeyer's mother who also lives at the High Street residence. She reported a domestic incident but when police arrived on the scene, they surely weren't prepared for what would come next.
Gene Wedemeyer's mother was evacuated from the home immediately upon police arrival. Wedemeyer locked himself in the upstairs apartment, making violent threats and refusing to answer the door."
"During several hours of attempted negotiations of the male subject, the male became more aggressive toward law enforcement," said Ilion Police Chief Tim Parisi.
Wedemeyer, in possession of a knife and large machete, tossed burning items from a second story window, including fiery Molotov cocktails. Police say he intentionally threw a hammer at two officers, injuring them.
"Not knowing what's going on, you know I have three little girls at home so you know we just kind of locked the doors and stayed inside," said Jerry Plows, a High Street neighbor.
That's when authorities evacuated people from nearby houses with the help of the Red Cross. That evacuation was just in time because the flames escalated. Police say Wedemeyer lit a fire in the home's attic sometime around two in the morning.
"It was big, the first thing to go was the roof, there was a lot of smoke, thing was just outrageously huge, it was bigger than the house," said Peter Palmitesso, a neighbor.
Firefighters battled the blaze as well as bad weather conditions.
"We had a broken main, hoses froze, problem with the pumps, the guys were freezing, we were switching them out as much as they could," said Ilion Fire Chief Jim Trevett.
Amidst the fire Wedemeyer still refused to exit the home and later he was found dead on the first floor. Today neighbors were still shocked but thankful the fire was contained.
"It was just crazy but the Ilion Fire Department did a great job, a great job," said Palmiteso.
"It sounds crazy but we didn't feel unsafe, we knew that they were there to keep us safe," said Plows.
Ilion police really didn't give us many details today because the incident's still very much under investigation.
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