Officers talk down suicidal man with handgun

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald:

By Jon Johnson

jonjohnsonnews@gmail.com

SAFFORD – A man who threatened suicide in front of his girlfriend by pointing a loaded handgun to his own head was talked into surrendering without harming himself by Safford Police on June 27.

According to a Safford Police report, a woman called County Dispatch about the situation at about 3 a.m., and a male could be heard screaming in the background. The situation was determined that a man had a handgun and that the woman was possibly a hostage at a residence on W. 2nd Street.

Upon arrival, officers from the Safford and Thatcher police departments discovered a man and woman in the living room of the residence and that the man had a handgun pointed to his own head. Officers later learned the handgun was a 9-MM Taurus semi-automatic with a magazine loaded with 13 rounds.

When officers arrived, the man initially refused officers’ commands to drop his weapon but did walk out of the residence and into the yard, allowing officers to have the woman leave the house and walk to their location. At that time, the woman said her boyfriend had come over to her residence banging on the front door and accused her of cheating on him. She said she didn’t see the gun until she let him inside and that she believed he was possibly under the influence of methamphetamine.

Officers continued to speak to the man, who demonstrated mood swings and appeared to have a conversation with himself. At one point, as the man kneeled and lowered the gun from his head, at which time a Thatcher officer deployed a 40-mm less-than-lethal round. The round struck the man but had no effect. The projectile instead appeared to agitate the man further and he again placed the gun back against his own head.

A short while later, the man demanded to see his girlfriend and a Safford captain advised that he would need to set the gun down before they would allow that to happen. After an additional several minutes, the man set the gun down and walked toward the captain, allowing other officers to secure the gun and take the man into custody.

After initially taking the man to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for evaluation, officers were informed he would be sent to a mental health facility outside of Graham County due to his intention to harm himself.

The report, along with a recommended charge of misconduct involving weapons, was sent to prosecutors for review.  

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