Gloucester man arrested after 90-minute standoff

by Kim Robins - Posted on Jul 23, 2010 - 05:19 PM

A Gloucester man who has repeatedly refused to comply with a court order to stop blocking his absentee neighbor’s right of way was taken into custody again Tuesday evening after a 90-minute standoff with police.

The standoff began when Clarence Bowser, armed with a sidearm, approached a Gloucester Sheriff’s deputy seeking to serve him with a capias warrant for his arrest.

The officer telephoned Bowser around 4:15 p.m. and asked him to meet the officer at the entrance to Bowser’s gated driveway off Running Horse Lane, according to Maj. Darrell Warren of the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office. Warren said Bowser walked out to meet the officer with a loaded .45-caliber magnum revolver strapped to his side.

When informed the warrant was for his arrest, Warren said Bowser drew his sidearm and "took a defensive stance" while announcing he was not going to jail. Warren said Bowser drew the weapon but held it at his side and never pointed it at the officer, who took cover behind his vehicle. At that point, Capt. Ryan Cookson, also on scene, attempted to establish a dialogue with Bowser.

Warren said another deputy arrived who also had a good rapport with Bowser and after about 40 minutes, Bowser agreed to take his holster off. However, Warren said the gun was still easily accessible to Bowser and the gate still separated him from the officers. "He repeatedly said, ‘I’m not going to jail today.’ There was no sign he was going to go peacefully," Warren said

Another 30-minute discussion with Bowser followed before an officer got close enough to deploy his electroshock weapon, sending Bowser to the ground. Warren said Bowser offered no further resistance and was taken into custody. He was later charged with brandishing a weapon and obstructing justice, both misdemeanors.

Bowser was first ordered to stop blocking the easement in 2007 and was jailed the fall of that year on a contempt of court charge for failing to comply. He was a candidate for Gloucester sheriff at the time in an unsuccessful bid. Continued refusal to comply led to his arrest again in 2008, when a permanent injunction, replacing a temporary one, was issued ordering him to clear the easement.

The neighboring property owner renewed her suit over the easement early this year and Bowser was jailed again in February for failing to comply. While he was incarcerated, the county codes and compliance office arranged to have the easement cleared. Bowser remained incarcerated until he was released last week.

A codes and compliance officer visited the property on Tuesday and found that Bowser had once again blocked the easement. That led to the issuance of the capias warrant that deputies attempted to serve, triggering the standoff.