Man in custody after threatening suicide by cop

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — A 46-year-old man with a military background who was threatening suicide by cop Wednesday afternoon on the city’s west side was peacefully taken into police custody,.

The man called 911 around 11 a.m. to say that he was armed and ready to commit suicide by cop, drawing a heavy police presence to a black and gray building on a Grand River at Winston.

“We believe he is despondent over a domestic situation,” Police Chief James Craig said.

Craig also said the suspect had a sister who died of either a homicide or suicide several years ago that may have contributed to the man’s angst.

After 1 p.m., Craig said officials had re-established communication with the suspect, and he had indicated that he was “going to exit the location with the gun pointed to his head. It seems like he’s become even more agitated.”

Just before 1:30 p.m., police reported the suspect was in custody. The man surrendered peacefully and voluntarily.

“He’s been transferred to the crisis center where he’ll be evaluated,” Craig said.

The man exited the building with a weapon in hand, Craig said. It appeared to be a firearm but could also have been a nail gun or another similar type of construction equipment.

“He never pointed it,” Craig said. “Our negotiator was having an ongoing conversation, giving directions, so he would be safe.”

The suspect, a Navy veteran, was released from parole in 2007 after convictions for weapons offenses, including: felony firearm, sale of a weapon and felony assault with a weapon, Craig said. He has a history of collecting weapons, the chief added.

Craig said he did not know the man’s standing or discharge date with the Navy.

The suspect made no demands during the standoff, Craig said.

Craig said he briefly spoke with the suspect after his surrender.

“I thanked him for his compliance, and he just nodded his head,” Craig said. “I told him everything would be alright.”

Officers Wednesday morning were in contact with the man’s girlfriend, who appeared to be his closest relation. No family was at the scene.

Craig said it is too early to speculate on possible charges in case, adding the man first needs to get medical and mental health help.

“We won’t go into (charges) right now,” he said.

The suspect works as a contractor at the location. It was poised to become a music studio and currently has no electricity, Craig said.

Police earlier Wednesday detained the suspect’s co-worker.

“We quickly learned he was not the subject,” Craig said.

The co-worker cooperated with authorities and has said the suspect takes medication for depression but was “extremely intoxicated” Tuesday evening and may have missed some dosages.

The chief also said he could not confirm early reports suggested the suspect might have fired shots in the area.

Also earlier Thursday, a police Special Response Team was involved in a traffic accident on its way to the scene, Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt said. The officers were shaken up but OK.

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