An armed man inside Panera Bread at 136 Nassau St. was shot and killed by police Tuesday afternoon after close to five hours of negotiations with law enforcement officials.
The New Jersey Attorney General's Office has identified the man as Scott Mielentz, 56. Mielentz was a resident of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and previously lived in Newtown, Pennsylvania.
Shortly after 10 a.m., members of the Princeton Police Department surrounded Mielentz inside of Panera. After customers and employees evacuated the establishment, law enforcement officials continued to negotiate with him. The situation ended shortly before 3 p.m. when the police shot and killed Mielentz, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
Nassau Street was shut down between Washington Road and Witherspoon Street with no traffic permitted. Members of the University community received a timely alert via email and phone warning students to stay away from the area. The two campus buildings closest to Panera, Henry House and Scheide Caldwell House, were evacuated. All other University operations continued as normal, according to Assistant Vice President for Communications Dan Day.
Police also shut down neighboring buildings on the north side of Nassau Street, according to the University website.
An emergency alert via phone call at 11:55 a.m. erroneously alerted some members of the University community that gunshots had been fired and called for a shelter in place. A correction was issued via phone shortly after. The University is actively working to determine what caused the inaccurate phone call, according to Day.
A 12:25 p.m. update on the University homepage announced that the police were negotiating with the man.
By 1 p.m., a SWAT team had arrived on Nassau Street.
At 2:30 p.m., a statement from Princeton Chief of Police Nicholas Sutter said that “the immediate area of the store has been evacuated and police continue to negotiate with the armed man.”
Kayla Moffett ’18 was walking past Panera when she saw a single police officer run past, beginning to draw her gun from its holster and point it toward the door. Moffett said she ran toward the first door she saw — the entrance to 30 Burgers at 124 Nassau St.
30 Burgers locked its doors and Moffett sheltered inside with other pedestrians, watching as more police officers arrived on the scene. Eventually, a police officer with an assault rifle told those inside 30 Burgers to evacuate.
Maddie Wu ’21 was eating at Frutta Bowls, two doors down from Panera, when she saw police cars surround Panera.
“We saw all these police cars coming to Panera but we didn’t know what was going on at first,” Wu said. “Then we saw a lot of people with guns coming out, the police. They were frantically trying to surround Panera, so they told us to lock everything and don’t move.”
Frutta Bowls was on lockdown for 40 minutes before Wu and others were allowed to leave.
According to the Princeton Packet, public schools sheltered in place while the incident unfolded.
“‘Shelter in place’ keeps us secure indoors, instruction able to continue, and on stand-by for updates,” Princeton High School Principal Gary Snyder wrote in a tweet.