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Sysadmin held at gunpoint by man demanding he fix his computer

It turned out to be a fake gun, but that didn't stop the SWAT team from being dispatched.

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


Where is a sysadmin in that story?


The sysadmin was back at head office, moaning that the techie was incompetent because he should have been able to compile a new kernel on the fly with the experimental fake gun detector enabled and thereby to realise that he wasn’t in any danger; blaming Windows for the whole thing anyway, I mean to say, what do you expect?; and composing outraged emails denouncing the use of “sysadmin” in the context of someone who has actually met a real user.


Bad call, comparing this to Tamir Rice. If cops had shown up and shot Mondello, it would’ve been unfortunate but not entirely undeserved. It would in no way have been comparable with police shooting a child playing in a park, within seconds of arriving on the scene.


Years ago I used to do in home service calls as a tech, you wouldn’t believe what some people expect a tech to do.


I think you should let us make our own minds up… give us some sample stories :-)


1. Put together a computer desk. 2. Fix their cable/Telco supplied connection (which I don’t think I’m allowed to do contractually where I live). 3. Setup personal accounts (e-mail, banking, etc.), and they all want to give me their passwords (some of which were are horrible).


It is rather worrying how often the conversation goes like this:

Q. Could you set up my email/website/internet banking/tax account?

A. [You’re thinking, for no more than two seconds, haven’t said anything yet.]

Q. My username is X and my password is Y.

As though, by telling you, they’ve got rid of your last excuse to say, “No.”


Your initial post had me (and I’m guessing Duck as well) thinking more along the lines of classic unrealistic 80s films, the characters in which are treated to daily doses of what we ‘mortals’ consider fantastic at best.

My lives include pizza driver and a roaming tech. None of that poppycock ever happened on my watch.

“Vicariously through Tom” was the battle cry.


Get a life people!!!! Nitpicking a story to death because of the use (or in this case nonuse) of one little word?? Don’t any of you have anything better to do?!


Makes a huge difference as to whether or not I’m going to bother clicking on said story to rad it. It’s click bait.

Oh and do you enjoy being a tech?


I’m amazed (more like saddened) at how classist the technology industry seems to be.

Seriously, people can read a story about “X-sort-of-computer-techie held a gunpoint” – the bloke was shown the business end of a firearm in the course of fixing a computer system, if you don’t mind! – and when it all ends with a big sigh of relief, no bloodshed and a job well done…

…then their reaction is, “What a *dreadful* story – X wasn’t a sysadmin at all. He was just some low-level travelling technician.”

For real?


Either Kusa Vass does not not know what a sysadmin is or she used click-bait to lure people here for the article. Another word for click bait is “lie” Deception is a form of a lie. So in better respect I’ll assume she misunderstands what a sysadmin is.


You’re being a bit elitist, aren’t you? It sounds as though you feel tricked after reading the story because the man who had a gun pointed at him was portrayed above what you see as his station in life, almost as if stopped caring that he was treatened with a firearm after you realised he was no more than a peon. Oh, and if you are going to confront the author as a liar, you might at least take the care to copy and paste the eight letters of her name correctly. (“Lisa Vaas.” It’s there in the text.)


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