Standoff suspect waives arraignment, held on no bail pending possible indictment

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Christopher Thomas (Rochester Police photo)

DOVER - The Rochester transient whose gun-toting behavior in the Walmart parking drew four SWAT teams and forced an almost 24-hour standoff waived his arraignment on Tuesday and will continue to be held without bail pending a likely mental evaluation and possible grand jury indictments.

Christopher Thomas, 27, surrendered without incident around 10:20 a.m. on Monday as members of the SWAT teams approached him. No injuries were reported, and The Ridge and Walmart, which had been closed during the standoff, both opened for business immediately. Thomas had sparked the standoff when Walmart employees noticed him walking with a rifle in the back corner of the store's parking lot around noon on Sunday.

Rochester Police Capt. Thomas (no relation) said on Monday they had been trying to apprehend and arrest Christopher Thomas since last March, when he was charged with criminal threatening of a neighbor while he formerly lived at the nearby Northgate Apartments.

Police had suspected for some time now that he was living in the woods behind Walmart in some sort of makeshift camp. Rochester Police Capt. Thomas said since September Christopher Thomas had allegedly shoplifted several times from Walmart before fleeing on foot back into the woods.

Christopher Thomas stands charged with four counts of felony reckless conduct with a deadly weapon for firing his rifle toward police and police helicopters. He also has several outstanding charges for criminal threatening and theft.

The Union Leader today reported that as Thomas was being escorted into court he could be heard saying, "Hey guys, 1776 is 1984, remember that. Info wars, Farmington, New Hampshire... What tyranny will we face today, guys?"

It is not yet clear if Thomas is competent to stand trial.

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