Man arrested after standoff with SWAT at local business

Berkley man allegedly threatened himself, others; fired multiple gunshots

By: Chris Jackett | Royal Oak Review | Published October 3, 2012


ROYAL OAK — Residents northeast of 14 Mile and Coolidge were not hearing things Sept. 21, if they thought they heard gunshots.

Berkley resident Benjamin Carl Farlow-Wolgast, 40, was in an armed standoff with the Southeast Oakland SWAT team at 7:20 p.m. at LGM Landscaping, 5025 Leafdale, where Farlow-Wolgast was employed, according to Royal Oak police.

Royal Oak police were initially called to the scene to investigate an assault and battery in progress with the additional report that someone was armed with a handgun.

However, officers arrived to find family members of the suspect in the parking lot. They reportedly confirmed a physical confrontation and said the man was armed and threatening to kill both himself and others, at which point officers heard several gunshots from within the building.

“The Royal Oak officers took a tactical position,” Royal Oak Lt. Tom Goad said.

After securing the area, the Southeast Oakland SWAT team — which consists of Royal Oak, Ferndale, Madison Heights and Berkley officers — was called to assist.

The SWAT team pulled an armored vehicle up to the front of the business and had a standoff with Farlow-Wolgast before convincing him to exit the business unarmed, police said. However, he began to struggle with officers during the arrest and had to be subdued via force and handcuffed, according to police.

“It was a physical confrontation,” said Goad, who noted Farlow-Wolgast was taken into custody at about 9:15 p.m.

While being taken to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak for a psychiatric evaluation, Farlow-Wolgast reportedly kicked the rear door of a police car several times, causing damage.

Farlow-Wolgast was released the following morning, turned over to Royal Oak police and was arraigned Sept. 23 before Judge Judith Holtz at the 6th Circuit Court in Pontiac. Farlow-Wolgast will be in 44th District Court for his first court date Oct. 12 in front of Judge Terrance Brennan. The court did not have record of an attorney for Farlow-Wolgast as of Sept. 28.

“Beaumont called us the next day and he was cleared for incarceration,” said Goad, who could not discuss the hospital’s diagnosis.

According to police, Farlow-Wolgast was charged with one count of malicious destruction of police property, a four-year felony, and two counts of resisting and obstructing a police officer, a potential two-year felony for each count. A $10,000 bond was set, which was posted Sept. 23.

Charges for the weapons or assault and battery were not authorized, but police confiscated four handguns and several long guns between Farlow-Wolgast’s house in Berkley and workplace in Royal Oak. Royal Oak police found two handguns and a long gun at the business, while Berkley police found two handguns and several more long guns at his residence.

Long guns do not need to be registered to the owner like a handgun does, but Farlow-Wolgast also did not have a concealed weapons permit, according to police.

“As of right now, we’re not going to charge him with a reckless discharge of firearms. It’s a local city ordinance,” Goad said, noting that a felony conviction on any one of the three counts would prevent Farlow-Wolgast from possessing guns in the future.

The standoff was not the first for Farlow-Wolgast, who was arrested Sept. 16, 2009 after a several-hour standoff with the Southeast Oakland SWAT team at his Berkley residence, where he barricaded himself inside and fired at least one gunshot, according to Royal Oak police. In that instance, he eventually surrendered to police.