Man in standoff was wanted after abandoning flipped car with guns and drugs inside, Palmer cops say

An armed man involved in a standoff Friday with police in Monroe County was wanted for leaving a crashed car along Route 22 with guns and drugs inside, Palmer Township police said.

Emir Christopher Justiniani, of North Seventh Street in Allentown, was arrested Friday afternoon after a four-hour standoff with Stroud Area Regional police at a hotel outside Stroudsburg, the department said.

Justiniani and his girlfriend were stopped that day in connection with his warrant from last month’s crash in Palmer Township, township police said.

On Sept. 13, police were called to Route 22 East near the 25th Street exit for a crash with a vehicle rolled over, Palmer police Detective Jim Alercia said.

Officers found a battered Honda sedan on its roof, tangled in brush and fencing on the south side of the highway, but there was no sign of the driver.

A witness reported to police he was driving in the right lane of Route 22 East when a black Honda traveling in the left lane struck the side of his car. The collision caused the Honda to “violently” cross over the highway and roll over onto the embankment, police said.

A witness told police he came upon the crash and got out to help, when he saw a man getting out of the overturned car.

Inside the car, police said they found “numerous” high-powered firearms, ammunition, drugs and an ID card belonging to Justiniani. The drugs included two knotted sandwich bags of methamphetamine, 10 packets of fentanyl and a small bag of marijuana, police said.

Police later learned Justiniani, who has a suspended license, was the driver and he had taken his girlfriend’s car that day, according to court papers.

On Sept. 22, police filed drug and driving charges against Justiniani and got a warrant for his arrest. Township police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are still investigating the firearms found in the car.

On Friday, after receiving a warrant to track a cellphone in the case, police said they learned Justiniani and his girlfriend were at the Holiday Inn Express in Stroud Township. Justiniani was reported to be armed with a handgun and AK-47-style rifle, according to police.

The pair were stopped in a vehicle in the hotel parking lot. While Justiniani’s girlfriend, who was driving, got out of the car, Justiniani refused police commands and was seen holding a handgun, police said.

Alercia said what followed was an extended standoff with negotiations between Justiniani and Stroud Regional and Palmer police. Eventually, Justiniani put down the handgun and surrendered, Alercia said.

Justiniani was taken to Northampton County Prison. Court records were not immediately updated with information on his arraignment or bail, or a date for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to send charges against him toward trial in county court.

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Sarah Cassi may be reached at [email protected].

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