A standoff situation that had an apartment complex in Mayfaire on lockdown for most of the day Tuesday ended peacefully, according to Captain Barry Key with the Wilmington Police Department.
The person in question was confirmed to be an officer with the Wilmington Police Department, but their identity has not been released.
The male officer was taken into custody and taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for evaluation. There were no reports of injuries during the stand off.
Officials said they received a call around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to respond to an officer who had barricaded himself in his apartment threatening to commit suicide, according to Linda Rawley, a spokeswoman from the WPD.
According to 911 calls, the off duty officer reportedly had his "issued revolver" with him.
For over 10 hours the Wilmington Police Department had officers at the Reserve at Mayfaire apartment complex negotiating with the suicidal. Officials called it a "critical" standoff situation.
Rawley also said the situation was "too dangerous" for the department to release any information about who was involved or why the SWAT team was called to help deal with the situation, only that teams were working to resolve the matter peacefully.
Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said the lack of information was necessary to make sure the critical situation ended peacefully.
According to 911 calls, the off-duty officer threatening suicide had a police radio with him. The Chief of Police also said the individual was following news reports about what was happening. "We had to be careful with what we put out there, anything we said could have set the individual back and we saw that a couple of times so we made the call to slow that down," explained Chief Evangelous.
The chief said because the standoff lasted so long, the WPD was able to bring in more and more resources, including a psychologist, a federal crisis negotiator and New Hanover County deputies to help rotate in and out with WPD officers. Chief Evangelous claimed the large response was not because the individual was a member of the police force, instead he said it is normal operating procedure to bring in all those resources, when they have time to get to the scene.
"We respond to every incident involving a suicidal subject or suicide or barricaded subject with the same amount of personnel every single time. What we did is not unusual and when we set up a command post and we bring in our trained negotiators that is our standard operating procedure we use all the time," Chief Evangelous said. "We did nothing different than what we do when we have time."
The chief said he has seen similar situations end very badly, but said luckily this one ended in peace. He said being able to establish a dialogue and start talking with the individual greatly helped the situation.
Currently, the off-duty officer who threatened suicide is on medical leave. The Chief of Police said he does not know if the officer will be able to return to the police force, he said a series of steps would need to take place to determine what the possibility of that is.
Residents in the area were originally not allowed to return home Tuesday afternoon because of the nature of the situation. Officers had entrances of the complex locked down as they tried to assess what was going on.
Later in the evening residents were allowed to return to their homes, but they were not updated about what was happening. Diane Sorensen who lives in the complex said she was on high alert, but was remaining calm.
"It's not the best situation to have police surrounding your building," Sorensen said. "Everybody seems so calm and there's so many police; I just figured that they have it all under control."
Officers with "Negotiator" on the back of their vests were seen earlier in the day at the scene and a Wilmington Police Mobile Command Post was set up in one of the parking lots at the Reserve. Multiple WPD officers and EMS crews were on standby at the Hilton Garden Inn earlier in the day.
"It's very unusual," Sorensen explained. "Our building is super quiet. It's very safe. We have a policeman who lives right across from us and his car is always parked there so we always think it's great to have a police car parked near your house. You know, you feel safe. But yeah, we've never had anything like this happen so I have no idea what it's about."
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