Beanbag Blasts Subdue Suspect


Police spent a tense afternoon Friday on the northwest corner of Beeline and Bonita trying to assess the motives of Dennis Eugene Jones, who was holed up in a room at the Charleston Motor Inn.

And while Jones' motives may never be determined, the event was resolved with only minor injuries to the Strawberry man, following an hour and a half standoff involving nearly two dozen law enforcement officers.

After being checked over and released from Payson Regional Medical Center, Jones, 47, was taken to Desert Vista, a mental health facility in Apache Junction, by a Payson police officer late Friday, said Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner.

"When these (incidents) are all said and done, we are always grateful that no one got hurt," Gartner said.

Fearing early Friday afternoon that Jones had a five-gallon can of gasoline in hand that he might ignite, officers blocked off Bonita Street and the Charleston Motor Inn and Denny's parking lots. DPS officers and Gila County Sheriff's deputies were called in. A police sniper was positioned on the motel's roof, his rifle aimed at the door of room 121. Other officers peered around trees and buildings, shotguns in hand.

The incident ended when Jones emerged from the room and was knocked down by three beanbag blasts from a police shotgun. Officers rushed to handcuff Jones as he lay face down on the sidewalk.

The excitement began about 11:30 a.m. when Charleston Motor Inn manager Dan Rama was attempting to reach Jones. Jones would not answer the door or the phone, Rama said. Housekeeping employee Greg Manz had opened the door during his routine rounds to clean rooms. He found that Jones had upended the mattresses.

Rama heard from a witness at Denny's restaurant that Jones had stolen a five-gallon can of gas from another customer's car. Unable to communicate with his guest and not knowing his intentions, Rama called police.

Chief Gartner ordered the evacuation of Denny's shortly after 1 p.m. Hotel guests and employees had already been evacuated. The Payson Police Department's Special Response Team was called in. Payson firefighters took their stance behind the police -- just in case.

Two members of the Special Response Team used a maid's cart as cover to place a communication device in front of the room.

Once in place, the device allowed officers to speak with Jones. Previous attempts to contact him by phone were unsuccessful, Gartner said. But even with the communication gear in place, officers were unable to understand Jones.

The suspect walked out of his room for a brief moment at 1:30 p.m., and about 10 minutes later he emerged again.

This time officers began shouting orders to Jones. He ignored their commands and began walking north along the sidewalk in front of the motel rooms. He was shot three times with beanbags blasted from a shotgun by the Special Response Team. Jones was hit twice in the chest and once in the arm, officers on the scene said.

"It is not a lethal round, (but) it is going to hurt. It disabled him and put him on the ground," Gartner said.

Officers handcuffed Jones and checked out his room. They found no gas can, Gartner said.

Jones was checked on the scene by EMTs for injuries caused by the beanbags, and was then transported to Payson Regional Medical Center.

Jones voluntarily committed himself to Desert Vista and he will not be charged.

History of incidents
Gartner said the strategy used Friday by police was based on Jones' extensive history of violence and run-ins with the law. Gartner said Jones' counselors told him Jones was a schizophrenic and was not taking his medication.

"The information we have is, he does not want to go back to jail at all costs," Gartner said.

Friday's standoff followed Jones' release from jail on Wednesday, where he had been since Feb. 1. He was being held on charges of use of dangerous drugs while on probation, said Dorothy Little, court supervisor.

Jones was released Wednesday after a court appearance. His father, Victor Jones of Strawberry, picked up his son with the intention of taking him to Strawberry.

"He got real nasty with the judge and his (court appointed) attorney. (But) they turned him loose to me," Jones' father said Monday. His son continued to act up, the elder Jones said, and after a stop at Bashas', Dennis would not get back in the truck.

"He wouldn't get in the truck so I left him," Jones' father said. He did not know where his son spent the night, and Dennis would not tell him.

At 5 a.m. Thursday , less than 24 hours after his release, Jones had a run-in with Payson police when he sat in the driver's seat of Jim Jack's truck in front of Denny's restaurant while Jack was stocking the newspaper racks.

"I yanked him out (of the truck) by his arm," Jack said Monday, "and he just took off." Jack then called the police, and the description he gave set them looking for Dennis Jones.

Later that morning, Jones' father found him hitchhiking to Phoenix and took him home to Strawberry. The day passed quietly, but by late evening, the elder Jones said, Dennis grew "nasty" again, tearing up his father's personal photos.

"I can't take it no more, I've had it," Jones said he told sheriff's deputies after he called 911 Thursday evening. "I don't want to press no charges, but he can't stay here," he said.

That's when deputies gave Dennis a ride back to Payson and the Charleston Motor Inn. He paid for one night and checked into room 121.

The elder Jones said he hopes his son gets the help he needs, and he will welcome his son back home, "as long as he is not the way he was," the 87-year old man said. "If he wants to be, he could be good, but he didn't want to be."

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