Skip to content

Police release further details from Thursday.night standoff

The Vandalia Police Department provided further information from an incident Thursday night where a man was taken into custody after nearly an hour-and-a-half long standoff.

According to a press release from Chief of Police Jeff Ray, a VPD officer responded at 6:42 p.m. to a disturbance at 1502 N. 8th St., where a reportedly intoxicated man was engaged in a “heated argument” outside an apartment building. When the officer approached the man – later identified as Steven D. Hilton, 44 – the suspect retreated into his apartment and allegedly became armed with an AR-15 style rifle, equipped with an optic. 

“The officer sought cover and immediately notified other officers, and together they established a secure perimeter,” Ray said in the release.

After approximately 1 hour and 27 minutes, Hilton was taken into custody at 8:09 p.m. Ray said during the standoff, Hilton was observed “loading a round into the chamber” of his rifle and “raising serious concerns for the safety of those involved.”

A subsequent police search of Hilton’s residence and vehicle uncovered a cache of firearms and ammunition. Among those items included two Glock handguns, a Colt M4 Carbine 5.56 with attached optics and a suppressor, a loaded PWS .308 rifle as well as other weapons.

Hilton was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; two counts of unlawful use of a weapon; and disorderly conduct. Ray said in the release Hilton appeared to have been under the influence at the time of his arrest with “a strong odor of alcohol emanating from his breath.”

Because of the nature of the incident, 8th Street was temporarily closed during the standoff and nearby businesses were evacuated. The football game at Vandalia Community High School was canceled and evacuated as an added precaution.

North 8th Street in Vandalia, including the intersection with Veterans Avenue shown here, was closed and local businesses were evacuated during a standoff with police on Thursday evening.

No injuries were reported.

“I want to commend the swift and professional response of our officers and all involved agencies; their coordinated efforts ensured the safety of all parties involved,” Ray said. “Assistance was provided by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, St. Elmo Police Department, Ramsey Police Department, Illinois State Police, Rural Med Ambulance, ARCH Air Medical, City of Vandalia Street Department, IDOT and the Vandalia School District.

“The Vandalia Police Department emphasizes its commitment to public safety and will continue to investigate the incident thoroughly.”

Fayette County Sheriff Ronnie Stevens released the following statement on Facebook:

“As Sheriff of Fayette County, I, Ronnie Stevens, would like to give my upmost appreciation to the Fayette County Deputies and Vandalia Police Officers that had to deal with two very high stress calls involving weapons the last two nights. These brave Deputies and Officers maintained professionalism and resilience the entire time in which they were able to safely resolve these situations peacefully. I am very happy that everyone involved was able to return home safely to their friends and family.”