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Trenton Standoff: Man Charged With Killing Bystander, Attempted Murder of Cops

TRENTON — By the time Antoinette Powell woke up Wednesday morning, her husband was already out in the neighborhood getting on with his day.

Not far from their home on Lamberton Street, heavily armed police officers were surrounding a house on Centre Street where a fugitive had holed up after firing at officers. Three of the rounds struck a bystander walking down the street.

Antoinette, like so many others in the neighborhood, gathered near the evacuated and locked-down block in order to catch a glimpse of the scene. She says she had no idea that the man who died was her husband of 30 years.

“He was already dead and I didn’t know.”

Before Wednesday morning, the couple had been expecting their first grandchild. Days later, the family is mourning the loss of 56-year-old Robert Powell.

“I miss him so much,” Antoinette said Thursday. “I just want him back.”

After a 35-hour standoff, Tyleeb Reese surrendered to police Thursday afternoon, emerging from the house shirtless and with his hands over his head.

The incident began about 6:20 a.m. the day before with U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force trying to arrest the convicted sex offender on a warrant.

It ended Thursday with Reese calling Trenton police to let them know he was giving up. He was arrested and charged with the murder of Powell and five counts each of attempted murder, aggravated assault with intent to cause seriously bodily harm and unlawful weapons offenses. Onofri said he was not sure

Onofri said that Reese fired buckshot, which scatters tiny lead pellets.

Powell, who was walking home from a store and ended up crawling through the street to get to cover, was struck three times: in his right hip, his right ankle and in his back. It was the gunshot through the back, which traveled to the front of his body, that killed him, the state medical examiner said. All three shots were fired by Reese, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri said Friday.

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Onofri said, in extending prayers to the Powell family during a news conference. He also praised the officers who went back to get Powell off the street “at their own personal peril.”

Tyleeb Reese (Mercer County Prosecutor's Office)
Tyleeb Reese (Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office)Three Mercer County Sheriff’s Officers also were injured, but not seriously.

Reese, 35, remained hospitalized Friday after experiencing chest pain while in State Police custody. Reese was not injured during the standoff, Onofri said.

Prosecutors will ask a judge to hold Reese without bail until trial.

On Friday, Mayor Eric Jackson and state Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig credited the State Police for waiting out the suspect and showing restraint.

“This is what happens when police work smart and together,” Honig said. “What you saw here was police officers from many jurisdictions, federal, state and local, across the boundary between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, who exercised force when necessary tempered with remarkable restraint with respect for the great people who live in this neighborhood.”

Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson also praised law enforcement for it’s expertise, professionalism and a patience that led to a peaceful ending. He said that residents would be able to return to their homes on Friday afternoon once the investigation is complete.

Jackson on Thursday thanked Reese’s family and friends who helped convince him to surrender.

Court records obtained by WPG’s sister station, New Jersey 101.5, reveal that Reese was a convicted sex offender who had been accused of raping a teenager between the ages of 13 and 16.

Reese was charged in 2013 for not registering as a Megan’s Law sex offender. For that, he served 47 days in jail. Onofri said Reese was being served by the Marshals for a failure to appear and failure to register with Megan’s Law/

In 2010, Reese was charged by Mercer County sheriff’s officers with hindering the arrest of Mark McCray, who had been wanted for a probation violation, according to a report at the time in The Trentonian. 

Reese surrendered to Trenton Police in 2004 after he was named among Mercer County Sheriff’s “most wanted,” according to a report at the time in The Trentonian. His family arranged for his surrender to police in connection with a 2002 incident outside the Blue Note Bar in Trenton.

The Associated Press and Sergio Bichao contributed to this report.

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