A police department has been forced to apologize after a SWAT team smashed down the door of a suburban home and held its owners at gunpoint - before realizing they had the wrong house.
The early-morning raid on Steve and Jennifer Tuppeny's house in Middletown, Delaware while their daughter slept upstairs has left them shaken, enraged and in need of numerous repairs to the home.
They have since discovered that the police were in fact searching for a 'person of interest' in a murder case who had claimed the address was his, but who has not lived there since 2009.
Mr Tuppeny was in the garage having a cigarette at 6.15am on Thursday, while his wife and daughter slept upstairs, when the Wilmington SWAT team swooped in, the Delaware News Journal reported.
The officers forced him to lie face down and handcuffed him, he said, before breaking through the front door with a battering ram that has left a deep dent.
Mrs Tuppeny, an elementary school teacher, was sleeping in her bed when officers stormed in and ordered her to get up while pointing guns at her.
Officers also swooped on the couple's eight-year-old daughter, shining bright lights into her face until she woke up, her mother said.
Speaking to The News Journal, the family, who purchased the home from the 'person of interest' nearly four years ago, expressed their outrage.
Mr Tuppeny, who was left with bruising to his arms, recalled: 'I'm lying on the garage floor at gunpoint and they are invading my home terrorizing my family. This is America. We’re innocent people here.'
His wife added: 'I’m just so upset, and my daughter is traumatized. All I want from police is an apology, and all my daughter wants is for the police officers to apologize.'
While the couple said no member of the SWAT team apologized after the mix-up came to light, Wilmington police spokesman Officer Mark Ivey said there had been an apology.
To settle the dispute, Wilmington Police Chief Michael Szczerba issued a statement reading: 'On behalf of the Wilmington Department of Police, I apologize to the family for this unfortunate situation.'
Police said they carried out the raid searching for a man who had claimed he lived at the address in the 100 block of Willow Grove Mill Drive.
A team went to the home with a search warrant authorising them to obtain a DNA sample, the News Journal reported.
After the mix-up, the man was found later than day in Smyrna and given a DNA swab and released. He has not been identified but is neither a defendant nor a suspect, police said.
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