Armed standoff ends in suicide

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 28, 2002

An attempt by numerous law agencies to apprehend a subject on numerous outstanding felony warrants which began Monday night led to a massive standoff with several agencies participating.

The suspect eventually suffered a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

The incident occurred on Music City Road off the Gantt-Red Level Highway.

According to Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams, Jr., agents from the Covington County 22nd Judicial Drug Task Force, along with officers from the Andalusia Police Department, deputies from the Covington County Sheriff's Office and U.S Customs agents were attempting to apprehend the subject, David Duane McClarnen a/k/a Duane David Stephens, 47, on Monday at approximately 5:45 p.m. when the suspect allegedly fired at officers as they attempted to gain entry into the McClarnen's residence.

Williams said the officers secured the residence and called for assistance from the Alabama Department of Public Safety's Tactical Response Team.

Information had been provided that McClarnen apparently had an extensive criminal record and that he was armed with an assortment of high-powered weapons.

After McClarnen fired on local officers a decision was made to request assistance from the state's Tactical Unit.

Once the unit arrived, it assumed control of the incident and a mechanical robot was brought from Montgomery to affect entry into the residence and assess the situation.

Once inside, the robot was able to confirm that McClarnen was in fact dead and that it appeared he died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

McClarnen was transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences where an autopsy was scheduled to be conducted to ascertain the exact cause of the suspect's death.

Agents with the Drug Task Force are in charge of the investigation of the incident, said Williams, and are currently classifying the incident as "Attempted Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer" and "Suicide."

Evidence discovered at the scene indicated McClarnen had been using and was continuing to use illegal drugs inside of his residence.

In continuance of this incident, DTF agents recovered a large quantity of assorted items classified as contraband.

Williams said he and Covington County Sheriff Anthony Clark wish to thank the Alabama Department of Public Safety Tactical Response Team for its valuable assistance.

Overall, numerous agencies participated in the lengthy standoff, including the DTF,

officers and deputies with the Andalusia Police Department, U.S. Customs Service agents, the Red Level Police Department, the Gantt Police Department, the Covington County Sheriff's Department, the Alabama State Troopers, the Alabama State Tactical Team and the Andalusia Rescue Squad.

According to a release from the United States Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney Gregory Miller of the Northern District of Florida, announced Tuesday that as a result of a joint, federal, state and local investigation, a federal grand jury returned an indictment on August 21 against McClarnen.

The indictment charged McClarnen with one count of conspiracy

to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, two counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of possession of cocaine, one count of possession of a firearm in connection with the commission of a drug felony and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, all occurring between Nov. 1, 2001 August 21 of this year.

The lead federal agency for the investigation was the United States Customs Service of Pensacola, Fla. The primary assisting agencies were the Federal Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office (SRCSO).

Willie Walker, who is a resident on Music City Road, said he was surprised by the amount of activity during the standoff.

"I was amazed by the number of (law enforcement agency) cars," said Walker. "I think they know where Music City Road is now. I could hear (the various officers) banging on (McClarnen's) door and trying to get into his house from where I live. Seeing all the cars and officers, it was like watching a movie."

Walker said his neighborhood has always been a particularly quiet one, but said during the past year or so there have been varying conflicts in the small neighborhood which sits on the Patsalaga River that was formerly a site for various music festivals and was given the name Music City Road because of the music events.

Walker said from what he could tell, McClarnen stayed inside his house most of the time

although he saw a woman coming to and from the residence quite a bit.