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Search for gunman proves futile

State and local police search for a man with a gun on Abbott Street in Plains Township Friday morning.

State and local police search for a man with a gun on Abbott Street in Plains Township Friday morning. Neighbors reported that a man was walking up Abbott Street yelling while talking on a cell phone and carrying a rifle.

Clark Van Orden/The Times Leader

Police check out an area of Plains Township, not far from the Solomon Plains school, where residents reported a man with a gun.

Clark Van Orden photos/The Times Leader

Police talk to residents of Abbott Street in Plains Township looking for information about report of a man with a gun. Despite an extensive search, no source of the gunshot noises was found.

PLAINS TWP. – A normally quiet and peaceful neighborhood was disrupted and an elementary school was locked down Friday morning when law enforcement authorities canvassed the area of Abbott Street searching for a gunman.

Plains Township police Sgt. Michael Augustine said two shots were heard near the Leo E. Solomon-Plains Memorial School and railroad tracks at about 10:15 a.m.

“I myself heard two shots; they were definitely gunshots,” Augustine said.

Township police along with police in Wilkes-Barre, Laflin, state police at Wyoming and the state police aviation unit searched the residential neighborhood from Stocker Street to Mill Street for more than an hour.

The search was called off when the gunman was unable to be found.

Augustine said Luzerne County 911 received a phone call about a white male, wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt, who was carrying a rifle, yelling into a cell phone and pacing on the 100 block of Abbott Street.

While police were searching the neighborhood, officers heard two shots in the area of 111 Abbott St., which is close to the school at 41 Abbott St.

“The first call was about a person carrying a rifle up and down the street, the second call was he was in a rear yard, and the third – we heard the gunshots,” Augustine said.

Officers wearing body armor and carrying assault rifles knocked on doors and checked behind houses, including a small tract of woods behind the houses and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks. A state police helicopter hovered several hundred feet above the ground assisting in the search.

Many residents on Abbott Street came outside and were told by police to stay indoors or on their porches.

Chris Bohonko, 29, of Abbott Street, said he was told police were looking for a gunman.

“My fiancée woke me up saying there are cops everywhere and there is some guy outside walking around with a gun and on a cell phone who fired a shot,” Bohonko said. “My most concern is for my kids, they go to school down here. That was my number one thing to make sure everything was safe down there.”

Several officers lined Stocker Street putting themselves between the school and the area that was searched.

Augustine said the lockdown at the school ended at noon, about 40 minutes after the search ended.

Edna Powell, 58, and her mother, Sandy Kelly, 78, were returning to their Abbott Street home after a doctor’s appointment to find police canvassing their neighborhood.

“It is a nice neighborhood, there are many families here,” Powell said, noting there is one duplex on the street that is troublesome. She said police have been called to the two-unit apartment building across from her house several times for fights and underage drinking parties.

“If that house is gone, I wouldn’t miss it,” Powell said.

Augustine said 911 was unable to trace the initial call about the gunman.

“It came back to an old TracFone, the minutes went dead,” Augustine said. “The person can call 911 but he can’t be reconnected.”

Abbott Street reopened at 11:45 a.m.

First reported online at

10:40 a.m.

on timesleader.com

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