A six-hour standoff with a man who took the manager of a Bradenton mobile home park hostage ended with the gunman being shot dead Thursday afternoon, after he fired at a SWAT team, according to Manatee Sheriff Rick Wells.
The incident started about 7:45 a.m., when Glenn Watenpool, 68, entered the office inside the clubhouse of the Pescara Lakes mobile home park, 750 57th Ave. W., and pointed a handgun at the 54-year-old park manager. Upset because he was about to be evicted, rumors circulating about him and other ongoing gripes, he began to discuss his concerns with the manager.
“Things were not going his way, so he hit the manager over the head with a gun,” Wells said.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office hostage negotiators were called to the scene and, for the next six hours, they attempted to convince the suspect — armed with a handgun and shotgun — to release the hostage to no avail. During their conversation, the suspect said his concerns had been ongoing for six years.
“No one would listen to him, so this was his day to be heard,” Wells said.
Watenpool told negotiators that he wanted to kill himself.
Just after 2 p.m., members of the sheriff’s office SWAT team entered the clubhouse as at least one loud bang followed by several shots could be heard.
“As soon as they entered the building, the suspect began to fire several shots at them,” Wells said. “We returned fire, striking and killing the suspect.”
Immediately, an ambulance that had been standing by near the intersection of 57th Avenue and 14th Street West was rushed over and the hostage was taken to a local hospital to be treated for his minor injuries. No one else was injured.
A caravan of sheriff’s office personnel, as well as a nearby mobile command center, pulled up to the scene. Detectives with the Manatee Homicide Investigative Unit had already been standing by, and are now conducting a death investigation.
Watenpool, a Pittsburgh native, was being evicted because he continued to “harass, stalk and make inappropriate accusations towards his neighbors in the community,” court documents state. On Nov. 24, Watenpool “followed another resident out of the neighborhood and followed the resident in his vehicle to two different locations honking his horn and making gestures towards the resident.”
On Aug. 29, the mobile home park first notified Watenpool of the violations, and he was given seven days to remedy the situation. On Nov. 29, Pescara Lakes gave Watenpool 30 days to vacate the premises.
But Watenpool refused to leave Pescara Lakes, the eviction documents state.
Susan Zambrano, a Pescara Lakes resident, was home when the standoff began to unfold Thursday, she told the Bradenton Herald in Spanish. At about 8 a.m. she heard a loud noise but didn’t pay much attention, thinking it was the wind or thunder brought by storms early Thursday morning.
But when she stepped out back to water her plants, she discovered the commotion and saw two deputies standing nearby.
“Within 10 minutes the park was filled with patrol deputies, and I became very scared,” Zambrano said.
She and her neighbors were told they needed to abandon their homes. They kept getting pushed farther out as deputies expanded the perimeter.
A Manatee County Area Transit bus was brought and parked on 57th Avenue West in front of the mobile home park, so that residents could sit in it and wait. It was about 3 p.m. before Zambrano and other residents were finally able to return home.
“I think this has caught us all by surprise, because it’s usually very quiet,” Zambrano said.