SWAT members discuss strategy before proceeding to approach the dwelling where a man who threatened suicide was located.
Photo by Andy Towle.
It took six SWAT officers and two negotiators more than four hours to calm a suicidal man who had barricaded himself in a trailer on Thursday, police say.
A 54-year-old man was taken into custody on a “mental health hold” just after 6:30 p.m. after officers Tasered him in the doorway of a travel trailer behind a brick home at 404 S. St. Phillips Street, said Payson Police Chief Don Engler. A search of the home afterward found no gun. He will not be charged with any crime and therefore the Roundup is not using his name.
The man was reportedly upset over recent medical issues and told a counselor that he wanted to take his life. The counselor called police, worried that the man had a gun. When officers came to the trailer around 2 p.m., the man would not answer the door or respond to telephone calls.
After several more failed attempts to contact the man, police set up a command center up at St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church, 511 S. St. Phillips Street, where SWAT members in camouflage gathered before converging on the home. One officer lay on a nearby roof while others circled the home.
As a precaution, six residents in surrounding homes and in the “line of fire” were evacuated around 2:30 p.m. Police told another half-dozen residents to stay in their homes. The house in front of the trailer was not occupied at the time.
Negotiators Sgt. Dean Faust and Officer Mike Varga finally got the man on his cell phone, however, he would not confirm if he had a weapon in the trailer.
“He would not come out and he was obviously intoxicated,” Engler said. “He was very uncooperative with us.”
The man continued to hang up on negotiators who would then call back and make contact. This routine continued for hours.
Finally, around 6:30 p.m., as negotiators distracted him on the phone, members of the Special Response Team drew in close around the trailer. They pounded on the door and windows, but the man ignored their requests.
“We spent a lot of time trying to contact him at the trailer,” Engler said.
The man opened the trailer’s door, but immediately tried to shut it when he saw officers. An officer had just enough time to Taser him in the chest.
“I think he finally got tired of us being there and decided to come out,” Engler said. “Even after the arrest, though, he was still very uncooperative with us.”