Panera gunman, shot dead by police, had a BB gun (Video)
PRINCETON — The man who held police at bay for several hours from inside the Panera Bread location on Nassau Street and who was fatally shot by state troopers inside the store had been armed with a BB gun, state officials say.
That information and surveillance video were first released by the state Office of the Attorney General Monday, in response to several Open Public Records Act requests.
An edited video provided by the Attorney General's Office reflects just five minutes of the hours-long encounter, without sound, and includes narrative text provided by the office. New Jersey 101.5 has not yet received more complete footage and records requested following the standoff.
On the morning of March 20, Scott Mielentz, 56, who most recently lived in Lawrenceville, entered the store with a firearm — identified in a media release Monday as a Crossman PFM BB Pistol — as employees and patrons fled. Just before 10:30 a.m., police got a call saying "there's a guy with a gun at Panera," according to a statement from the attorney general.
The video released Monday shows two angles of surveillance video from inside the store, one showing Mielentz from the side and one facing toward his front, from behind the officers. It included the moment troopers shot Mielentz.
The attorney general said Mielentz was holding the black pistol in his hand for several hours near his waist. Just before he is shot, he can be seen raising the his hand, apparently with the gun in it and pointing in the direction of the officers.
The report from the attorney general said he was shot by members of the New Jersey State Police Technical Emergency and Mission Specialists unit armed with M4 rifles.
Mielentz was shot once in the head and once in the upper torso, and was declared dead at the scene, authorities said.
Crossman, in its description of its PFM pistols, warns they are not toys and can cause injury or death. It is not clear from information provided by the state if the pistol Mielentz held had any clear markings to indicate it wasn't a standard pistol.
"The Crosman PFM16 BB pistol will look and feel realistic," an advertisement for the gun on several sites reads. "Semiauto clones of firearms are a great way to stay proficient without spending time and money going to the range."
As reported previously by New Jersey 101.5, Mielentz told federal authorities last year he'd been in a psychiatric ward and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of military service.
In bankruptcy procedings, Mielentz did not say why he had been in a psychiatric ward "for a bit of time," and also said he was on medication and suffered from several medical conditions including herniated discs and degenerative disc disease. In 2014, his wife filed paperwork with the Social Security Administration saying that he took the antipsychotic Rispiradone and oxycodone, as well as morphine and Gabepentin.
When his wife was asked how he handles interacting with authority or police, she said he "can get agitated but mostly unnerved," and that his "anxiety creates fear that he cannot explain."
As part of his bankruptcy filing, Mielentz said he had more than $120,000 in debts and just $6,670 in assets, according to the forms. The debts, he said, were to credit card companies, medical providers and student loan providers.
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