METHUEN — A man connected to a missing dog case in Nashua, N.H., barricaded himself inside his family home Wednesday as police went to arrest him for a burglary investigation, triggering an hourslong standoff that ended peacefully.
O’Neil, 38, is also suspected of being the person who stole an 11-year-old Shih Tzu called Nikko from a Nashua woman’s car Sunday evening while she briefly stopped at a Walgreens store in the New Hampshire city.
The dog owner, Amarilys Martinez, went to O’Neil’s home on College Lane on Tuesday, when O’Neil’s mother handed over the small dog to her, according to Martinez and Solomon.
“[Martinez is] quite the detective,’’ Solomon said Wednesday.
In a telephone interview, Martinez said she was on her way home Sunday night when she stopped at Walgreens and left the dog in the car with the air conditioning running. When she emerged 10 minutes later, the dog was gone.
While Nashua police investigated, Martinez posted about Nikko’s disappearance on her Facebook page. Eventually, she got a telephone call from a woman who provided the suspect’s name and a Methuen address.
Martinez — armed only with a manual stapler — went to the house around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and was initially told by a woman on the second floor who identified herself as O’Neil’s mother that her dog was not in their home.
But as Martinez circled the house, the woman came out and handed over Nikko.
“Now my dog is back in my house,” Martinez said. “He’s my dog. He’s my child. He’s part of my family. [O’Neil] messed with the wrong person.”
O’Neil is not currently facing charges in connection for the alleged dognapping of Nikko, officials said. The investigating Nashua police officer could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
But Solomon said O’Neil might face receiving stolen property charges in Massachusetts for his alleged role in the dog case.
Solomon said police were at the house Tuesday to help Martinez recover her dog but said O’Neil was not at home at the time.
According to Seabrook police Detective Scott Mendes, O’Neil broke into a convenience store and stole a carton of cigarettes around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Police responded and developed information on the burglary suspect using surveillance video from the store.
Around 4 a.m., Mendes said, officers patrolling the neighborhood spotted someone who looked like the burglary suspect speaking with the owner of the store.
Mendes said O’Neil initially identified himself by his brother’s name, but police were able to get his accurate identity. He was released by police, who were seeking to confirm the case against him. Three charges, including burglary and receiving stolen property, were later issued against O’Neil by New Hampshire courts.
Seabrook police asked Methuen police to take O’Neil into custody early Wednesday.
Officers on the midnight shift returned to College Lane around 6:40 a.m. in hopes of finding O’Neil at home, Solomon said. “Upon entering the house, the subject fled, barricaded himself up in an attic,” he said. “They backed out, they evacuated the houses in the area, secured the residence.’’
Solomon said his department didn’t try to pursue O’Neil into the attic and instead activated the regional SWAT team from the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, which dispatched heavily armed officers and three negotiators to the scene.
Efforts by negotiators to establish contact with O’Neil were unsuccessful, so the SWAT officers entered the home, the chief said. O’Neil was no longer in the attic but had managed to somehow hide himself inside an end table, Solomon said.
“He was hiding inside a piece of furniture inside the house,’’ Solomon said. “He had come down from the attic, went into one of the bedrooms.’’
O’Neil, whom family members said has mental health issues, surrendered peacefully shortly before 9 a.m.
Solomon said SWAT officers found a shotgun inside the home and what appeared to have been stolen merchandise. The investigation is continuing; detectives executed a search warrant on the house early Wednesday afternoon.
Officers discovered 17 firearms which were mostly airsoft guns or replicas, with the exception of one bolt-action 7.62×54mm rifle, police said.
Richard Brien, a neighbor across the street, said police have had frequent prior contact with O’Neil and the family living in the College Lane home. He said police alerted him to what was going on by pounding on his door around 7 a.m.
“I heard bang, bang, bang, and I was still asleep, and I said, ‘That damn cat, what the heck is she doing now!’ ” he said. “Bang bang bang again, I said, ‘Oh, that’s not the cat.’ So I put my robe on, came to the door, the cops said, ‘Get out.’ So we left.”
The police have been called to the house nearly 70 times over the past 10 years, for purposes ranging from serving a summons to possible fights, according to logs provided by Methuen police.
“We’re used to this. It’s not the first time the cops have been here, with guns at all corners of the house,’’ Brien said. “We haven’t been evacuated before, but we’ve certainly seen a lot of cops up there.”John R. Ellement can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. J.D. Capelouto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.