Authorities in Lackawanna County, PA are blaming human error for an incident at the Lackawanna County courthouse. A man who was in custody was able to hold a sheriff's deputy at gunpoint.
Police cars and officers
surrounded the Lackawanna
County courthouse Saturday
night after a DUI suspect
brought a gun into the
The sheriff said his office is making a change not in procedure, but deputies will use a hand-held wand to check suspects brought into the courthouse from now on after the security breach.
"This morning we had a meeting with Sheriff Syzmanski and we went through what exactly had happened and we're satisfied that it was a human error and the proper protocol was not followed and we just go from there," said District Attorney Andy Jarbola.
Where they go from here has not yet been decided by the Lackawanna County district attorney's and sheriff's offices.
Where they were Saturday night was in a lock-down situation at the courthouse after a breach of security. Authorities said a suspect kidnapped a police officer and threatened his life.
According to arrest papers, Turique Patrick, a part-time police officer from Jermyn, brought Eugene Zawisky of Browndale to the county's processing center after arresting him on suspected DUI.
Authorities said Zawisky had a small, loaded gun tucked into his underwear, which was apparently undetected in a search.
The sheriff said Zawisky was released from handcuffs in the courthouse by Sheriff Deputy Michael Church, also against protocol.
According to arrest papers, "Deputy Church stated he then saw Officer Patrick on his knees with Zawisky holding a handgun to the back of his neck. "
According to Officer Patrick "Zawisky stated, 'Get me out of here or I will kill you.'"
Authorities said Zawisky then led Patrick out to a sheriff's car.
"At that point in time, one of the deputy sheriffs was able to resolve that situation without anybody getting hurt," Jarbola explained.
Police said Zawisky was taken down, his arm broken and the gun taken away with no shots fired.
"It could have been a lot worse, absolutely," Jarbola added.
Newswatch 16 asked to see video surveillance from Saturday night and was told that was not possible.
As for discipline of the deputy, the sheriff said nothing has been determined yet.
Zawisky is still in the hospital. He will be taken to the Lackawanna County jail when he is released.