RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. – On Monday Bryan Houser, 46, pled guilty in 8 charges of assault of Law Enforcement with a firearm and 1 discharge of a firearm into an occupied vehicle in Superior Court. The charges stem from a police standoff in Bostic brought about when after stabbing his father, Houser barricaded himself in the home and then fired shots at an arriving law enforcement officer answering the father’s call for help.
The domestic disturbance on North Fork Road in Bostic began around 10 a.m. when Houser stabbed his 75-year-old father and held him hostage inside the home. The father escaped and a passing driver took him to the hospital where he was treated for minor cuts to the head and hands. The Rutherford County Sheriff’s deputy responding to the emergency call was pinned down as Houser fired shots using a high-powered deer rifle. The deputy called for back-up assistance. The deputies also tried to serve involuntary commitment papers to no avail.
After the standoff lasted several hours, the Henderson County S.W.A.T. team was called in. Rutherford County’s S.W.A.T. team had been disbanded by Sheriff Chris Francis when he took office. Nearby homes were evacuated. Negotiations with the suspect were attempted via telephone, but Houser eventually broke off communications. Crews used loud speakers and gas to try to force the man from the home.
The Bearcat armored vehicle nicknamed Romeo is used to help recover officers trapped in dangerous situations. Obtained by the Henderson County department through a federal grant in 2008, Romeo is a remote-controlled robot and is one of the county’s elite mechanized bomb squad members. The Hendersonville team was on the scene for most of the 20-hour standoff and were fired upon when their Bearcat moved in. Sheriff Francis was not on the scene, but spoke before the TV cameras after the crisis was over.
Defense attorney Sarah Ziomek stated that at the time of the incident Houser “was experiencing a psychotic break and experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations. Houser “felt he was under attack” and made several 911 calls of his own. Ziomek stated that “Houser could now understand what he had done, but he has no recollection of the incident.”
Houser was shot in the thumb. Houser spend 3 weeks in Mission Hospital before being transferred to the Rutherford County Detention Center. Houser attempted hanging himself there in Dec. 2015. He was then transferred to North Carolina Central Prison in Raleigh.
Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers, Jr. consolidated the charges, most of which involved Henderson County officers,into 1 class D felony and 2 class E felonies. Houser faced 908 months in active jail time.
RC Detective Keever spoke during the sentencing period and verified that Houser had assaulted his father, refused to be committed and had called 911 himself. ADA Byers
Attorney Ziomek noted that during the interim since the incident, Houser’s father had been support of his son who had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic. She also stated that “during his time in a structured environment and under supervised medication had been responding well.”
Houser received consecutive sentences of 68 minimum-94 maximum months for the D class felony and 26 minimum-44 maximum months each for the E class felonies in active jail time. From the bench, Davis stressed to Houser that he had been given a “second chance at life” and “that he could have been killed.”Judge Tommy Davis credited Houser with the 813 days of pretrial confinement. He also awarded a civil judgement of $2200 in attorney fees and ordered that Houser continue with psychiatric evaluation and treatment.
Detectives Jamie Keever and Patrick Wiseman as well as Houser’s father were in the courtroom. Sheriff Chris Francis was not.