BAY ST. LOUIS -- A man who held six people hostage at gunpoint, including his 13-month-old son and three older children, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Peter Joseph "P.J." Dougherty Jr., 34, of Bay St. Louis, pleaded guilty Monday in Hancock County Circuit Court to six counts of kidnapping.
Judge Roger Clark imposed the prison term and suspended 20 years, leaving 20 to serve followed by five years of probation.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel said Dougherty violated a restraining order and entered the garage of the Kiln family's home early on Nov. 2, 2014. He hid in the garage until a child found him.
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A total of eight people had been in the house. Dougherty allowed one to leave and another sneaked out, Daniel said.
Hancock County deputies responding to a domestic violence call at the Kiln home on Road 254 found Dougherty had a .40-caliber handgun and was holding six people -- his estranged wife, his mother-in-law and four children, three of whom are family friends.
Sheriff Ricky Adam previously reported the father-in-law got out of the house and called 911 about 3 a.m. Adam said deputies persuaded Dougherty to release some of the hostages. A SWAT team and negotiator arrived and talked him into releasing his estranged wife and their toddler. He gave up his weapon and surrendered about 9 a.m.
Daniel said investigators found Dougherty had put a bag in the garage that contained extra pistol magazines, tape, rope, twine, cable and locks. They found his vehicle in nearby woods off Cuevas Town Road.
Deputies also arrested Dougherty on two counts of aggravated domestic assault, four counts of aggravated assault and one count of malicious mischief. Those charges were dismissed as part of his plea deal.
Dougherty claimed he had gone to the house to see his son, but his gun and the bag he brought with him indicated he had other plans, Daniel said.
"The Hancock County Sheriff's Office responded very quickly and ended a dangerous incident that threatened the lives of this family, including four young people," Smith said.
"Domestic violence cannot be tolerated in our community, and our office is committed to holding these violent offenders accountable."