October 27, 2021

Standoff ends with self-inflicted wounds

Dan Lyon/multimedia intern

A SWAT vehicle stands by near the Cortland Hampton Inn this morning as police try to convince a wanted Broome County man to leave the motel.

CORTLAND — A 24-hour standoff at a Cortland hotel ended early this morning when police broke into a room and found the suspect critically injured in a bathroom.

Corey J. Hobart, 28, of 930 Powers Road, Conklin, was in critical condition this morning at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse with what police said appeared to be self-inflicted injuries. It ended a conflict that began just 24 hours before with a chase by Broome County sheriff’s deputies and state police north on Interstate 81.

A Broome deputy saw Hobart, who was wanted on a parole warrant in Johnson City, at a Walmart and tried to pull him over.

Instead, Hobart fled north on I-81. Hobart, with police in pursuit, pulled off I-81 at Exit 10 in Polkville and headed into Cortland, where city police deployed a tire deflation device.

Port Watson Street resident Dustin Sherman said he woke upto hear sirens and scraping and looked out his window to see the car driving by on flat tires.

“My bed faces the window toward the road so I’m in bed looking out the window, watching it scraping, going by, literally scraping from the front tires,” Sherman said. “There were probably 20 police officers following, going maybe 25-30 mph.”

The tires flattened, but Hobart continued along several streets before stopping at the Hampton Inn, 26 River St., where he got out of the vehicle with a woman, pointing a handgun at her and police. They entered the Cortland Hampton Inn hotel and a room that had already been rented to the woman, Jeri Ann Healy, 27, of Johnson City.

At 4 a.m. Friday, Tamara Cupples was awoken by a banging on her hotel door.

“I didn’t know if I should answer the door,” she recalled later.

After opening the door of her Hampton Inn room she saw two police officers who told her she needed to leave and there was a situation. With the pajamas she was wearing and her shoes, Cupples, from New Jersey, left the inn. “I have no glasses and can’t see,” she said.

Police had told Cupples, who was staying on the second floor, that she wouldn’t be able to get her possessions from her room.

All guests of the hotel were evacuated. Some waited outside. Some left, and others were being accommodated at the Ramada Inn, near the Hampton Inn on River Street, Cortland police Lt. David Guerrera said. Some guests’ personal items were removed for the hotel so they could find accommodations elsewhere and get on with their day.

Negotiations began once police arrived on scene, about 4:15 a.m., Guerrera said. They continued through the morning, with police concluding that although Healy and Hobart knew each other, Healy was being held against her will.

During the negotiations, Hobart told police he had two handguns, a shotgun and illegal narcotics. He released Healy about 11 a.m. Negotiations continued for several more hours until Hobart ceased contact.

In the meantime, police charged Healy with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, heroin, which was found in the vehicle. She was released pending an appearance June 15 in Cortland City Court. The investigation continues.

About 1:30 a.m., police deployed tactical devices, then breached the room 90 minutes later, where they found Hobart unresponsive in the bathroom with what appeared to be self-inflicted injuries.

He was taken from the motel at 3:48 a.m. by a TLC Emergency Medical Services ambulance to Upstate University Hospital.

Guerrera said the initial plan was to take Hobart by helicopter landing in the former Apex tool factory property across River Street, but he was covered in pepper spray, which precluded using the helicopter.

“The individual has an injury and is being transported,” Guerrera said shortly afterward. He described the injury as “significant” but not anticipated to be life threatening. Hospital officials had no further details this morning.

Ashley Jones of Preble was among a small group of bystanders standing behind yellow caution tape outside the nearby Red Roof Inn when the standoff came to an end. She said heavily armed officers enter the Hampton Inn about 3 a.m., then loud explosions.

“We heard this bang, like a flash-bang, then two shots,” Jones said.

No police, patrons or other emergency responders were injured.

Officers from Cortland police, Cortland County Sheriff’s Office, Broome County Sheriff’s Department, Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department, Syracuse police, the FBI, New York State Police, Endicott police, Homer police, the Cortland Fire Department and TLC ambulance responded.

Reporters Nick Graziano and Jacob DeRochie, Senior Reporter Catherine Wilde and City Editor Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.