Sysadmin held at gunpoint by man demanding he fix his computer

Joseph “Joe” Nestor Mondello was arrested last month for allegedly refusing to let a Dell technician leave his house to get a part he said he needed to fix Mondello’s computer, pointing a gun at him and ordering him to fix the computer lest he kill him.

According to the local paper Arlington Patch, police in Arlington County, Virginia, said that the confrontation began on 28 December around 11 a.m. when the computer tech showed up at a house in Arlington to try to fix a computer.

The homeowner was 50-year-old Mondello.

Police said that the tech told Mondello that he needed to leave to get a part to fix the computer.

Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told the paper that the request to go get a part “sent our subject over the edge.”

Arlington Patch quotes Sternbeck:

He became furious and clearly agitated, [telling the tech that] you’re not leaving this house until the computer is fixed.

Then Mondello left the room, returning with what looked like a gun held at his side.

Sternbeck said that Mondello started pacing back and forth, making threats along the lines of:

I’m going to kill you slowly.

Police said that’s not a direct quote; they know that threats were made against the tech and he was in fear of his life, but they haven’t provided direct quotes.

At that point, Mondello’s wife, having heard her husband making threats, came downstairs and got between her husband and the computer tech.

That gave the tech the chance to escape, so he fled, called his office, and then called the emergency number 911 for assistance, Sternbeck said.

Police sent a SWAT team to the house and executed search warrants, but Mondello turned himself in after a brief period of time.

The gun turned out to be fake.

Such replicas can have serious consequences, Sternbeck said – a fact underscored by the tragic killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, whom Cleveland police shot to death last year when they encountered the boy playing with what turned out to be a black toy pellet gun.

Mondello, charged with abduction by force/intimidation and use of a firearm in a felony, was taken into custody.

He posted bail and has already received a preliminary hearing.

At Naked Security, we have a lot of fun celebrating system administrators and other computer techs who, every day, talk down frustrated users.

These professionals often carry out what can be a stressful job with creativity, wit and style.

We’re relieved that the technician got away safe, with nobody being hurt, that a toy gun didn’t lead to yet another pointless death, and that Mondello’s wife had the bravery necessary to step up and be a hero.

Image of Gunpoint courtesy of