Distraught veteran surrenders after 3-hour standoff


A disabled Vietnam veteran who built an authentic Viet Cong village in the back yard of his Northeast Baltimore home surrendered early yesterday to police negotiators and SWAT officers who had been called on reports of disorderly conduct after holding them off for more than three hours.

Dennis Alvez, 43, of the 4600 block of Moravia Road, was depressed from learning he has cancer rather than suffering from Vietnam flashbacks, said police negotiator Lt. Samuel Tress. Police were called to the home after reports of disorderly conduct.

The city's Quick Response Team sealed off the residence, brought in explosive-sniffing dogs and negotiated Mr. Alvez's surrender after receiving a 12:20 a.m. report of an argument between the veteran and hiswife, Vicki.

Mrs. Alvez and the couple's three young children escaped unharmed, although at least one shotgun round was fired inside the house from one of two shotguns, which police recovered from the home along with two .22-caliber rifles and handguns.

After being handcuffed, Mr. Alvez, who has had at least two prior zTC confrontations with authorities, was taken for evaluation to Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has not been criminally charged.

Mr. Alvez built his Viet Cong village -- complete with underground tunnels, booby-traps, sniper nests, tiger cages and command bunker -- two years ago and christened it "Camp Hope."

One of Mr. Alvez's neighbors, Orie "Butch" Williams, described the veteran as a good neighbor and said that he had been given a guided tour of the Viet Cong village.

"It was really authentic," said Mr. Williams.

"But it was always in the back of my mind what he had went through in Vietnam. I guess, sometimes they need to go back to this. He told me he had done two tours there," he said.

Yesterday's Mr. Alvez's distinctive black and gray POW/MIA flag hung listlessly inthe still air in front of the modest home.

Inside, a clearly distraught Mrs. Alvez was trying to mind the couple's three children, ages 7, 8 and 9, while trying to determine the whereabouts of her husband. Three pairs of deer hoofs hung over thedoorways of the home and hunting magazines were scattered about.

Mrs. Alvez declined to be interviewed about the incident or her husband until she could receive counseling.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad