Man who fired at SWAT team shot in head

Police called to Westside home, exchange gunfire with suspect

Author: Steve Patrick, Managing editor of digital content, spatrick@news4jax.com
Published On: Jan 03 2014 02:37:28 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 03 2014 03:28:26 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A 45-year-old Westside man who fired at SWAT officers on Thursday afternoon is in critical but stable condition with a gunshot to his head, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Police say Gary Robert Schiwart holed up in his Westside home after firing a shot at his mother during an argument early in the afternoon. Hours later, after coming out with a shotgun three times and exchanging shots with tactical officers, he surrendered.

Schiwart was transported to UF Health Jacksonville with a head injury, but police did not say until Friday that the man was shot during the standoff.

Police initially responded to a call of armed battery at the home on Herlong Road at 11:32 a.m.  In the early afternoon, Schiwart's sister called and said he was drunk and threatening to kill their mother and himself. Officers say he fired one shot at his mother as she ran from the house.

Responding officers called the SWAT team when they heard shots from inside the house shortly before 2 p.m.

Police say Schiwart showed himself on three separate occasions during the seven hour standoff, one time firing a shot on an armored SWAT vehicle. Officers returned fire.

Channel 4's Scott Johnson said he heard several explosions, possibly gunshots, about 6 p.m.

The man showed himself twice more; at least one other time firing at officers and they returned fire. He finally surrendered at 6:38 p.m., about 45 minutes after his third engagement with police.

"Schiwart appeared to have a single gunshot to hid head and it does not appear to be self-inflicted, according to the hospital," JSO Assistant Chief Annie Smith said on Friday.

Police say four officers fired a total of seven shots during the incident, and all will be on administrative leave while the incident is investigated -- standard procedure after police-involved shootings.

Police said Schiwart is facing aggravated assault and domestic violence charges, and it is likely that he may be charged with attempted murder of a police officer.

A check of Schiwart's criminal history found numerous traffic and alcohol violations, one arrest for aggravated battery and one for worthless checks.

Neighbors kept out of homes for hours


Residents immediately around Schiwart's home were evacuated and kept away for hours.

"It's killing me right now, I've been stuck outside and can't get to my house. It's killing me right now," said a neighbor, Aaron Speight.

Channel 4's Crime Analyst, Ken Jefferson explained that establishing a safe perimeter in large scenes like Thursday's where shots can be fired is difficult.

"People understand that you're dealing with someone who can harm them and children. Every now and then you have exception of people who go in their homes. You have to understand, when police – when police are working, they're in charge of that entire scene," said Jefferson.