MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A federal judge, involved in a Miami-Dade Special Response Team standoff for hours early Friday morning, ended when he shot and killed himself inside the Southwest Miami-Dade home.
Three hostages inside the home, including a teenage girl, were not hurt and escaped the home moments after he fired the fatal gunshot at around 8:20 a.m.
Police said the hostages included a 49-year-old homeowner and his 49-year-old wife and their 13-year-old daughter.
Police, neighbors and members of the media heard the gunshot ring out from inside the home near SW 240th Street and 114th Place.
Miami-Dade police were sent to the home Thursday night around 11:30 pm. After receiving several texts that individuals were being held inside against their will.
After getting no response from inside the home, arriving officers secured the area and called for a Special Response Team and a hostage negotiator.
CBS4’s Jim DeFede said a law enforcement source confirmed that the man holding the hostages was federal administrative law judge Timothy Maher.
Last week, Maher was arrested in an alleged domestic dispute involving the mother of his 4-year-old son. He was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, child abuse without great bodily harm and resisting an officer without violence when he allegedly threatened her verbally, and had a gun holstered on his hip, while holding their son, when she went to pick the boy up from Maher’s El Portal home.
After the child was placed in the woman’s car, she told police, Maher continued to verbally assault her and she saw him pointing a rifle towards the rear window of her vehicle as she drove away and called police. Maher was found locked in his home and hiding behind a wall. Police set up a perimeter, but the commander on the scene was able to talk him out.
He was jailed and released on bond but the next day, he locked himself inside his home again when police went to retrieve his weapons. He once again had to be talked out of his home.
The same cannot be said for Friday morning’s incident.
Watch Miami-Dade Police give update on Standoff
Detective Chris Thomas said there were several hours of communication between the police negotiator and Maher and then it suddenly ceased.
During the standoff, the police negotiator gave commands to determine the situation. At one point, he asked him to turn the lights on and off to signal that everyone inside was okay.
“Jose, Tim, or Ana we are not going anywhere. All you have to do is turn your lights on and off so that we know you are okay, a simple request please.”
Nothing happened. The request was repeated.
“Your honor if you are in that residence, please you or someone else inside the house turn the lights on so that we know everyone is okay, we don’t need to escalate this at all.”
At that point, the lights were turned on.
The negotiator also asked Maher to release a 13-year-old girl.
“I know you are a good father Tim. Do me a favor, as a sign of good (faith), please be willing to let Sara come out the front door. She is a 13-year-old girl and does not need to go through all of this. You’re a father, please let the girl out the front door,” said the negotiator.
The negotiator then said if he would consider releasing the girl he should flash the lights.
The lights flashed, but no one walked out of the home.
Around 8:20 a.m., police heard a gunshot from inside the home and then saw three people come out. SRT members entered the home and found Maher dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“Right now we have one male dead, he is the apparent male that was holding the other individuals hostage,” said Thomas.
There was no one else in the home.
WATCH CBS4’s Peter D’Oench Noon Report on Neighbors Reacting To Standoff
The SRT standoff led to evacuations around the neighborhood.
“SWAT actually bang on our door and told us to clear out of the area,” said one neighbor who did not want to be identified.
Geronimo Diaz says his sister’s friends were being held against their will.
“They are really good neighbors. They are my sister’s friends. My sister used to work with them. He’s a very good guy. Apparently his brother-in-law is a federal judge,” said Diaz.
“Why would a man choose to kill himself? That’s the question around here. Why would he choose to kill himself,” asked neighbor Claudette Reid.
Reid and another neighbor, Eric Harrison, woke up to find crime scene tape sealing off their neighborhood, which is not far from where the judge took his own life.
“My reaction is at least he didn’t take a family member with him. He’s got his own problems, let him go by himself,” said Reid.
“One would never dream that was going to happen,” said Harrison.
Curious neighbors weren’t sure what was going on.
“When we heard about it, they said it was a federal judge and when we saw that, they said it was a county judge. We didn’t know but they said he was still holding people hostage and then all of sudden we were out here checking and we went down and we were looking but then they said, no the guy had killed himself,” explained Harrison who wondered, “Your next-door neighbor, you never know what’s going on. You never know. Why would you want to do that? A federal judge. I wonder what’s going on in his mind.”
Harrison and Reid told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that they hoped that the investigation would lead to some answers as to why the Judge took his own life.
Thomas said “we did everything we could to resolve the situation. This was an unforeseen and unfortunate circumstance.”
Maher was also investigated on Tuesday of this past week after a federal office in Miami was shut down after Maher reportedly threatened a co worker.