'Standoff' Ends; Man Was at a Local Bar

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A man who was believed to be holed up in his Oak Forest home for several hours Thursday was actually spending the evening hours at a local bar, police said.

    Authorities could not immedidately say if Mark Fitch will face criminal charges, nor did they say how much the operation may have cost them. Click here for update on the suspect.

    The ordeal began at about 4 p.m., when police said they received a call from one of Fitch's friends.  The friend told police they believed Fitch was intoxicated and was trying to hurt himself.

    Authorities responded to the home and tried to make contact with Fitch, believing he was inside.

    Oak Forest Mayor Hank Kuspa earlier in the day called the incident a possible "gun hostage situation."

    Nearby homes were evacuated, and Babette Court, between 163rd and 159th streets, was cordoned off by authorities.  A SWAT team used a loudspeaker in their attempts to communicate:

    "You need to pick up your cell phone and speak to the officers now. We need to speak to you. Or pick up the phone in the blackbox we left near your door. If not, come out on the driveway with your hands up, you will not be hurt. Follow the instructions."

    The message was repeated approximately every 30 seconds, but there was no response.

    Later, police said they received a call from Fitch. In speaking with him, they learned he was at a bar and had been there all night. Police located him outside the bar and arrested him. 

    One neighbor said Fitch has a history with alcoholism and may have had difficulty finding steady employment. 

    Neighbor Jeff Beal said Fitch is well known for his elaborate and loud fireworks which he does every year on 4th of July and New Year's Eve.

    "The neighbors get very annoyed. Just a loud 'boom, boom, boom' for hours sometimes. We all call him the 'fireworks guy," said Beal.

    Police from Hazel Crest, Homewood, Tinley Park, Chicago Heights and other surrounding areas responded, Oak Forest Patch reported.

    Neighbors have since been able to return to their homes.