Police in standoff with an armed man at Panera in Princeton (updated 3 p.m.)

Residents who live in the area near the Panera evacuate their apartments after a man enters the eatery and pulls out a gun. Photo by reader Carla B.

Police in Princeton are still in a standoff with an armed man at the Panera on Nassau Street in downtown Princeton as of 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Police located what they believe is the man’s car, a Ford Focus with Pennsylvania plates. Few details have been released about the man. Law enforcement sources say the man is a veteran.

Just before 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the man entered the Panera with a handgun and made threats as customers and employees fled, many through the back door.

Police evacuated the area and barricaded Nassau Street between Witherspoon Street and Washington Road. The section of the Princeton University campus fronting that part of Nassau street was also off limits to pedestrians and students. Henry House and Scheide-Caldwell, the two campus buildings closest to the restaurant, were evacuated.

Local police, state police, the FBI and a SWAT team are all at the scene. Several police officers on Nassau Street had guns drawn in the morning. Police have been trying to negotiate with the man, Chief Nick Sutter told Planet Princeton. Police asked the man to allow an officer to enter to negotiate with him. In the late morning, the man could be heard on the police scanner saying “no one is coming through those doors.”

Sutter said police did not know if anyone else aside from the shooter was still in the building. Police believe no one else is inside the building and can’t see anyone else in the building, but they can not confirm that the shooter is alone.

The police chief has asked the public to stay away from the area until further notice.

Princeton Public Schools are in shelter in place mode. Sutter said the situation has been contained though. The Princeton Public Library is also on lockdown. People can enter but can’t leave. Several area businesses and offices are also on lockdown.

Princeton University sent out an automated phone message to employees just after noon saying the school was on lockdown and that allegedly shots had been fired at the scene. A few minutes later, a second message went saying the previous message about the lockdown and shots being fired was a mistake.

Stay out of downtown Princeton until this is over. You will make the job easier for the Princeton Police while also staying safe. If you parked on the street today downtown, the meters are not being enforced due to the lockdown. 

FBI agents arrive in downtown Princeton to help with the standoff at Panera. Photo by reader Carla B.


Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.


  1. This was not easy to understand for me.

    Why would one be able to enter but not leave the library?

    Was the entire town shut down or just the library? And if just the library then why? And if the same protocl was applied to the all entities in that area, then why not close down all entry point to the area including WItherspoon, Paul Robeson, Vanderventer, etc.

  2. it’s not hard to understand. you may enter the library but you may not leave the library until the cops give the all clear.

  3. I would like more clarity on this.

    > Princeton Public Schools are in shelter in place mode. The Princeton Public Library is also on lockdown. People can enter but can’t leave. Several area businesses and offices are also on lockdown.

    What does it mean that people can’t leave?

  4. If you parked on the street today in Princeton, the parking official has let us know that the meters will not be enforced today due to lockdowns.

  5. Son’t have one yet. Police dealing with the situation and don’t have time to go into detail about that. Have not gotten description from people who were inside. Thanks for asking.

  6. Tried to make clearer after your comment. Rushing to get info. up so perhaps not as clear as could have been. Thanks for asking.

  7. The chief has asked. Sorry, somehow words were replaced by accident when we did a revision. Thanks for the heads up so we could fix the story.

  8. And people say that princeton is safe and a good place to be! There is no safe place

  9. “The man with the gun has asked the public to stay away from the area.” Really? Is that right?

  10. Anyone else aside from the shooter. They don’t know if he is alone or not. They think everyone else got out but can’t confirm yet because he won’t let anyone in.

Please share your thoughts on this story.

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