Stand-off in flat ends after 17 hrs; man held

Police yesterday leading away the 39-year-old man (left), who had locked himself in the Sembawang unit (above) with his girlfriend's two-year-old son. The unarmed man was arrested for wrongful confinement and drug-related offences, and the boy is now
Police yesterday leading away the 39-year-old man (above), who had locked himself in the Sembawang unit with his girlfriend's two-year-old son. The unarmed man was arrested for wrongful confinement and drug-related offences, and the boy is now in the custody of the authorities.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Police yesterday leading away the 39-year-old man (left), who had locked himself in the Sembawang unit (above) with his girlfriend's two-year-old son. The unarmed man was arrested for wrongful confinement and drug-related offences, and the boy is now
Police yesterday leading away the 39-year-old man, who had locked himself in the Sembawang unit (above) with his girlfriend's two-year-old son. The unarmed man was arrested for wrongful confinement and drug-related offences, and the boy is now in the custody of the authorities.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Police break into Sembawang unit through window, rescuing his girlfriend's two-year-old son

For 17 hours, a man locked himself in a Sembawang flat with his girlfriend's two-year-old son as police officers stationed themselves outside to ensure that the situation did not get out of control.

Then at noon yesterday, a loud bang was heard, followed by sparks. Special Operations Command officers had broken into the fifth-floor unit through a window, rescuing the boy unharmed and ending the dramatic stand-off at Block 462.

The 39-year-old man, who was unarmed, was arrested for wrongful confinement and drug-related offences.

The boy's mother, who seemed to have fought with her boyfriend before the stand-off began, was arrested at the scene for suspected drug-related offences.

The boy is now in the custody of the authorities.

The stand-off started when police received a call at 6.44pm on Tuesday. But even before that, neighbours said they heard the couple fighting.

According to Ms Rosli, a 36-year-old housewife and daughter of a neighbour on the fifth floor, the couple had moved into the one-room rental flat early this year, but hardly opened their door.

Her 57-year-old mother had heard them quarrelling loudly and intermittently in Malay at around 5pm for about two hours.

The woman left the flat and cried, but came back later with an older woman. They asked her boyfriend to open the door and let her son go, as the boy was not his child.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force's Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team set up a safety life air pack at the foot of the block on Tuesday evening, and a safety net was deployed yesterday.

According to the police, officers "waited for the right opportunity" before breaking in. The Straits Times understands that officers entered the unit through the corridor window.

Relief security officer Azlamia Saini, 54, who lives on the sixth floor, said she heard someone shouting "Stop it!" when officers attempted to break in.

"That was the first time I heard them (the couple) quarrel," she said, describing the couple as "polite". "But we always hear quarrels in this block; it's normal."

Sembawang GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak, who was at the scene yesterday morning, said police tried to negotiate with the man. He added that the mother has three other children, who are with their grandmother in Woodlands.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Lian Ghim Hua called it a "challenging operation" as it involved the child's safety, and negotiations were also protracted.

"Securing the safe release of the child was my top priority in the operation," he said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Social and Family Development said it has placed the boy in "safe care temporarily" and will work with the family and professionals in ensuring his safety and well-being.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2016, with the headline 'Stand-off in flat ends after 17 hrs; man held'. Print Edition | Subscribe