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Man killed in Panera standoff was armed with what turned out to be BB gun

Police in Princeton, N.J. closed Nassau Street between Washington and Witherspoon streets after a person with a gun entered the Panera restaurant there. (Dana Difilippo/WHYY)

Police in Princeton, N.J. closed Nassau Street between Washington and Witherspoon streets after a person with a gun entered the Panera restaurant there. (Dana Difilippo/WHYY)

Just-released surveillance video shows the man at the center of last month’s standoff inside a Panera Bread in Princeton, N.J. took several deep breaths before raising a black pistol in the direction of police officers, who fired several rounds, killing him.

It turned out that the gun in Scott Mielentz’s hand was a black Crosman PFM BB Pistol.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office released the video from the restaurant’s surveillance cameras Monday afternoon.

It shows two members of the State Police TEAMS (Technical Emergency and Mission Specialists) Unit, aiming M4 rifles at Mielentz, 56, who had stormed into the restaurant across the street from Princeton University with what appeared to be a gun on the morning of March 20.

 

The video was one step in answering some of the questions that remained after the shooting, including why police used lethal force on Mielentz, who hadn’t taken any hostages.

The AG’s office also released information from police reports and 911 recordings that paint a clearer picture of the incident.

Law enforcement officers with the New Jersey State Police, the Princeton Police Department, and the FBI negotiated with Mielentz in the hours before he was killed by officers.

Court records show that Mielentz had filed for bankruptcy twice before — once in Pennsylvania and once in Florida — and had been treated for mental health issues.

The shooting remains under investigation by the AG’s Shooting Response Team.

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