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.