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SWAT surrounds empty Cottonwood home
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 10:00

Police find allegedly suicidal man later at local restaurant

A 22-year-old Iraq War veteran who talked of suicide was located unharmed at a local fast food restaurant after more than 10 Cottonwood Police Department officers and four members of the Verde Valley Special Weapons and Tactics team surrounded the trailer home where he was believed to reside.

SWAT_in_Old_Town_CottonwoodPolice were called to the 800 block of N. Sixth Street shortly after 3 p.m. on Friday, April 16, after the girlfriend of the unidentified man told officers the man threatened suicide and said he wanted to die, according to the CPD.

The girlfriend told police the man frequently carried a .45-caliber pistol and owned body armor, Sgt. Gary Eisenga said at the scene.

When the man did not answer telephone calls or come to the door of the home, police, aided by members of Citizens on Patrol, blocked access to Sixth from Main streets.

Uniformed in full military gear, including a bullet-proof vest, a SWAT member patrolled the neighborhood carrying an automatic rifle slung over his shoulder and a pistol at his hip. Several SWAT members were seen carrying automatic rifles.

The home, located in a wooded Old Town neighborhood where historic houses constructed of river rock are situated side by side with trailer homes, was surrounded by police shortly before 4 p.m.

Moments later, five houses near the residence were evacuated. Neighbors appeared concerned as they filed out of their homes and gathered outside a yellow tape barrier. They joined in small groups and spoke in hushed voices about the man some said was normally friendly and outgoing.

One man was shirtless, his wife in sleepwear, after being roused from bed following an overnight shift at work. All watched and waited as police set up tables in front of the command center and unfurled wire from a bright red spool for a telephone connection.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m, carrying tall, metal shields and walking behind the SWAT van, SWAT members, weapons at the ready, slowly approached the front of the home to place the telephone inside.

SWAT remained in place as negotiators attempted again to contact the man using the telephone line that stretched back to the mobile command center. Still, the man did not answer.

Shortly before 5 p.m., the girlfriend, who was seated on a chair in the street in front of the mobile command center, received a telephone call from the man.

She spoke briefly, then handed the telephone to Sgt. Darren Harper, who was apparently acting as a negotiator at the scene. The man told Harper he was not home, but at a local fast food restaurant having a hamburger.

CPD dispatched a police officer and SWAT team member to the restaurant to verify the man was where he said he was, Eisenga said.

After speaking to police, the man gave permission for CPD to enter his home, where officers located a handgun, magazines, ammunition and body armor.

The man was checked into Verde Valley Medical Center for evaluation. There were no injuries reported.

Eisenga said the response by CPD was customary when an armed suspect is reported, depending on the circumstances. The fact the man was an Iraq War veteran was not the reason fully armed SWAT members were dispatched to the scene, he said.

“It’s always better to be safe,” Eisenga said.


Verde Valley Weather

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Cottonwood, AZ

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