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Suspect in armed northeast Forsyth standoff identified
An armed standoff Thursday afternoon drew a heavy law enforcement presence to the Bethel Road area.

NORTHEAST FORSYTH — An armed standoff ended peacefully Thursday afternoon in the area of Bethel Park near Lake Lanier with authorities taking a shotgun-wielding man into custody.

According to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, deputies arrested Kenneth Mercer, 50, who at one point was believed to have shot at them while wandering around the front yard of his home in the 8300 block of Swiss Air Road off Bethel Road.

Mercer has been charged with four counts of aggravated assault against an officer, with additional charges likely.

Authorities have not released information about his possible motives or intentions.

The incident began about 1:30 p.m. when a report came in from Fire Station 9 on nearby Browns Bridge Road, where the man’s wife reportedly drove after growing concerned about his hostile behavior.

“The wife took off. He had the shotgun,” said Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “… She was fine. She saw what he was about to do or going into that [state of mind].”

Deputies sent to investigate reported that the man attempted to engage them. Rainwater described it as a “possible suicide-by-cop situation.”

“Once the initial deputies arrived, he had at one point pointed the shotgun at the deputies,” he said. “They took cover.

“He was far enough [away] that the deputies were not in immediate danger.”

Mercer ignored many commands from deputies to put his weapon down. No shots were exchanged, though Mercer had reportedly fired the weapon before deputies arrived.

Deputies secured a perimeter around the house and evacuated nearby homes. They also summoned reinforcements.

The result was a heavy law enforcement presence, including the sheriff’s office SWAT and crisis negotiation teams and its armored “Bearcat” vehicle, in the area.

Rainwater said local authorities were mindful of the fatal shooting Wednesday of a police officer during an ambush in neighboring Fulton County.

As the drama unfolded, Bethel Road was closed where it meets Lake Hollow Drive and deputies rerouted traffic in the heavily wooded residential area.

“We were in the process of talking to [the suspect] when we were able to get a SWAT team member close enough to him with a Taser,” Rainwater said. “He was Tased in his front yard with a shotgun still in his hand.”

No one was injured in the incident and deputies searched Mercer’s home as a precaution.

Evidence obtained on scene confirmed that although Mercer had fired the weapon, he did not shoot at deputies.

Mercer was taken to an area hospital and, from there, to the Forsyth County Detention Center, where he remains. His bond has been set at $88,440, according to Rainwater.