By Natalie DiBlasio and Oren Dorell
An armed man with multiple hostages is barricaded inside a Trenton home in a standoff that has lasted more than 15 hours.
Trenton Police Lt. Stephen Varn declined to give any details on the number of people being held, their ages or relationship to the armed man. He said shortly before 5 a.m. Saturday that negotiations continued between police and the man.
The Times of Trenton is reporting that children are among the hostages. Negotiators were trying to persuade the man to let the children out to safely before surrendering himself, Mercer County Prosecutor Joe Bocchini said.
The standoff began Friday afternoon, when police entered the home to check on the welfare of a woman who relatives had not heard from in several days, Trenton Police Sgt. Robert Carrier told USA TODAY.
Gerald James, 46, who used to live in the same building, said the neighborhood has gang activity but the apartment building is a "decent place" where most residents have to be employed to make rent.
Ray Kelly told the Times that his cousin Carmen Kelly, 42, has been killed. She had five children, four of whom, Kelly said, were inside the house Friday night: two daughters, ages 17 and 14, a son in his early teens and a 4-year-old boy.
A state police spokesman said the agency's SWAT unit, crisis negotiators and various specialized units are on the scene.
The Rev. Gregory Noga at nearby St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church said he was out of town Friday and got back to find his neighborhood barricaded.
"The police have the street blocked off," Noga said. "The hostage negotiators are trying to contact to get (the gunman) to release the children."
The man is talking to city and State Police negotiators who are trying to get him to leave the house peacefully, Mercer County First Assistant Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said.
Earlier, authorities said police were called to the home midafternoon Friday on reports of a barricaded suspect.
Authorities say police entered the home on a wellness check, found the decomposing body of a woman, and a man brandishing a gun. The police retreated from the home and a perimeter was established around the home. A SWAT team was called in.
Homes on the surrounding block have been evacuated as a precaution.
David Suarez, who lives on the 200 block of Grand Street, told The TrentonianSaturday morning he slept in the Trenton train station after police turned him away after he returned home from work the night before.
"I had nowhere to go to sleep," Suarez said.
Contributing: The Associated Press