New Hope Borough police officers fired upon and wounded Steven Cabules, 46, of North Main Street in New Hope Saturday night at around 8 p.m. while attempting to involuntarily commit him to a mental health facility, according to witnesses. They say he was holding a single shot stainless steel barreled rifle when officers confronted him at his front door.
No police officers were injured.
Cabules was shot once in the midsection and taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Middletown. Hospital officials would not release information about the man’s condition Sunday, although news reports emerged by evening indicating that a shot to the abdomen had occurred with possible spinal complications. Detectives for the Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, who was not reachable, are investigating the incident. New Hope police have not commented.
One witness near the scene who asked not to be identified said that shortly after New Hope police officers arrived, he heard “two or three shots” then someone yelling “drop your weapon”, and another man saying, “oh my god,” followed by multiple shots. Bullet holes visible at the scene bore numerals running from 12 to 19, and markings seemed to indicate that the police fired from two positions — one about 10 feet away near the doorway of an adjacent apartment, and one from a stairway just below Cabules’ apartment.
According to Cabules’ neighbor Robert Jernigan, 41, the wounded man was under treatment for schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and hadn’t taken his medication in two weeks. Jernigan said he had recently met Cabules and described him as a “Nice guy, big heart, super-intelligent, generous.” He urged Cabules to seek help as his behavior deteriorated and he became involved in several traffic-related incidents. Cabules was also in the midst of a messy divorce, and was already known to police officials, according to Jernigan.
Jernigan said Cabules was in possession of a .357 Magnum revolver and a single shot rifle with interchangeable barrels, and he warned police the man would most likely be armed when approached. Jernigan had been communicating with Cabules’ mother, and notified New Hope police officials of Cabules’ condition after he had been attacked by Cabules with a fork and knife, and Cabules had also spoken of shooting a friend of Jernigan’s, among others.
On Saturday night, Jernigan accompanied a police officer to Doylestown Hospital, where the officer was given a “302”, or order of involuntary commitment. Jernigan claims he repeatedly warned police that Cabules was unpredictable and that they should be prepared to negotiate. Upon returning to New Hope, the officer, according to Jernigan, said, “I’m going to drop you off at the police station and you can stay there.” Jernigan refused, exited the vehicle, and began walking back to his residence on North Main Street. Jernigan said he heard shots ring out approximately 5-10 minutes later.
Said Jernigan, “I told them what he had, I told them his mental state, I told them when you go in his house he’ll have a gun in his hand, and they swore they’d negotiate. I spent three hours in the hospital with the officer waiting to get the papers so he could be taken in and evaluated and given the medications he needed so he wouldn’t hurt himself or anybody else because he was a good guy and he was worth the time. And they [the police] came here and started shooting.”
The Studio Inn is a two-story single room occupancy building located at 131 N. Main St. in New Hope.
(Updated 9:30 p.m.)