Why did Lyndhurst man keep police at bay for 20+ hours this week?

Robert Condit LPD

Tuesday afternoon, May 3, we got word a man was holding Lyndhurst police at bay and that the entire neighborhood was on lockdown of sorts. Then, 21 hours later, the man surrendered peacefully and without incident.

But just why did this man barricade himself inside his home at 444 Thomas Ave. for almost a day?

It wasn’t clear at first. But after speaking with Det. Lt. Vincent Auteri, it all became clear, and that aforementioned man is in a significant amount of trouble as he faces a slew of charges.

Here’s how it all went down, according to Auteri.

The morning before 51-year-old Robert Condit began his saga with the Lyndhurst Police Department — other law-enforcement agencies, you’ll see later, were also on scene — he had a court appearance, according to Auteri, to determine whether he should be required to surrender his firearms and gun permits.

Turns out that case, in Bergen County Superior Court, was necessitated because of a family member, with a legal matter, he was involved with.

So that day, a judge handed down a decision — Condit was to surrender, to the Lyndhurst PD — his license to buy firearms and his cache of weapons (six firearms) and all ammunition.

Once the case was over, the LPD was informed of the judge’s decision and officers were forthwith sent to Condit’s residence on Thomas Avenue. They were there when Condit arrived back home — but instead of allowing the PD inside to seize the items, he instead snuck in a side door, locked the place up and refused to come out or hand over his weaponry.

And so, the 21-hour saga was now underway.

During that time, reports surfaced on social media that Condit was holding hostages and that shots were fired.

“None of that happened — ever — period,” Auteri said. “Condit didn’t fire any shots, our department fired no shots. No other agency fired shots. And the people who were inside the house when he got home were all allowed to leave the house.”

That said, Condit did shoot something off at cops while he was keeping them at bay. Somehow, Auteri says, Condit was able to purchase a massive flame thrower. How he got that weapon is still under investigation. And while police patiently waited for him to surrender, he reportedly shot the flame thrower off, in the direction of the tactical officers, multiple times, while he wore body armor.

And while doing so, fortunately, did not injure anyone, it is something Condit may regret in the long run — it led to two counts of attempted murder. More on that later.

As Condit drew the ordeal out, surrounding homes were evacuated. Other homes nearby but not as close were put on lockdown. Residents couldn’t go in our out unless there was something important ongoing — like a doctor’s appointment, medical emergencies, etc. Area kids were even excused from going to school that morning.

And then, just a little past 1:10 p.m., Wednesday, May 4, Condit surrendered, peacefully, without incident and without anyone being harmed.

The charges levied against Condit are extensive and include: two counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officers, resisting arrest, terroristic threats, possession of prohibited weapons and devices, possession of weapons for unlawful purposes, unlawful possession of a weapon, unlawful use of body vests, possession of a destructive device, hindering apprehension, obstruction, contempt of court and added later in the week, four counts of possession of high capacity magazines.

After surrendering, Condit was transported to the New Bridge Medical Center, Paramus, for evaluation. After that, he was remanded to the Bergen County Jail, Hackensack, pending court appearances.

Why did he do all this, though? We asked Auteri and he offered a terrific comparison.

“If someone tries, let’s say, to take my kids away from me, it’s not going to be pretty,” Auteri said. “And from what we can tell, Mr. Condit believed forcefully in his Second Amendment right to bear arms. He’s passionate about his guns and his rights. So we surmise after the judge tells him he has to surrender his weapons and he’ll likely never see them or any gun again for that matter, he chose to do it all on his terms.”

Meanwhile, Auteri says the LPD had a lot of help from numerous agencies from Lyndhurst and elsewhere, and he wants to laud all of their efforts.

“We would like to thank the following for all their contributions and assistance in assuring this incident reached a safe resolution,” Auteri said. “The tactical teams from the Lyndhurst PD and the Bergen County Regional SWAT Team, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, our neighboring police agencies, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department’s Crime Scene Unit, crisis-negotiation teams from Lyndhurst, Bergen County and the FBI, the Lyndhurst Fire Department, Lyndhurst Public Works Department, the Lyndhurst Board of Education, Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad, Rutherford EMS, North Arlington EMS, Hudson Regional EMS, CBH Healthcare and PSE&G.

“We also can’t thank the residents of Lyndhurst enough for all their support and understanding throughout this matter. Numerous houses on Thomas Avenue between Eighth Street and Chase Avenue were evacuated and homes on the adjacent streets within close proximity were asked to shelter in place. That is a lot to ask, but everyone was more than cooperative.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.