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Redlands Daily Facts (California)
REDLANDS — Redlands Police officers spent more than 17 hours in a standoff with a suicidal man in a gym parking lot, including overnight, before the crisis came to an end Thursday morning. The man fatally shot himself inside his car.
Police crisis negotiators spent more than 17 hours talking to the 50-year-old man by phone as he sat locked in his sedan with a gun outside of L.A. Fitness, at 1035 Parkford Drive.
Shortly before 7:30 a.m. a shot was fired in the vehicle. When police approached they discovered the man was critically injured.
Redlands paramedics treated the man on scene and in the AMR ambulance while being transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center where the man was pronounced dead.
Paramedics had been on scene ready to provide treatment throughout the standoff.
The man's identity is being withheld.
Police were called around 12:30 p.m. by a family member who was concerned, said Carl Baker, city spokesman in an email Thursday. Officers located the man in his car at the L.A. Fitness parking lot and when they approached they saw that he had a gun, Baker said.
Redlands Police Commander Chris Catren said officers trained in crisis intervention were on scene within minutes.
They talked with the man on the phone for hours in an attempt to keep him from committing suicide, he said.
Catren said because the man had a firearm, police needed to ensure the safety of the surrounding public.
Police blocked Parkford Drive, closed the nearby 76 Gas Station and blocked the Ford Street off ramp on the eastbound 10 freeway.
L.A. Fitness was placed on lockdown for about three hours, before being evacuated through a backdoor in the late afternoon.
Gym patrons' vehicles were left in the parking lot until later in the evening when officers determined the situation was stable, Baker said. Officers escorted some people to retrieve their vehicles, he said.
Residents of a nearby apartment complex were also kept out of their apartments until late Wednesday.
No injuries were reported from the incident.
Catren said officers are faced with several possibilities when approaching a suicidal subject with a firearm. The subject could turn the gun on themselves, the officers or the public, he said.
Catren said the department has responded to many calls for attempted suicide involving knives, pills or other means that do not put the surrounding public in danger.
Officers had responded to two additional calls for suicidal threats by Thursday afternoon, he said.
He said in most cases, the subject will comply within minutes.
"Certainly this incident lasted much longer than any incident I have been involved with in the 20 years I've worked here," he said. "That was definitely on the very highof the scale, but why it took so long is because we're willing to put in whatever amount of time it takes to bring it to a peaceful resolution if we can."
Generally, the crisis negotiators listen to the subject to find out why they are threatening suicide, Catren said.
"They have to listen and find out what's going on in a person's life that is causing them to contemplate suicide," he said. "Since there's always something. You never hear anybody just say there's nothing to live for just in general. They always have a reason whether it be a recent break up, financial, loss of job, loss of a family member."
Catren said officers have also dealt with students' contemplating suicide after being bullied.
"They try to get down to the heart of the reason of what is really bothering them and work to try and discuss it with the person and give them options and alternatives that are not suicide," Catren said.
Up to 25 Redlands police personnel and a firefighter paramedic crew were on scene at any given time during the incident, Baker said.
Some personnel rotated out during the evening, Baker said.
Catren, who was on scene until midnight and returned at 5 a.m. Thursday, said he saw comments online that there were too many officers on scene.
"We will make that determination based on the ability to keep the public safe and do our best to try and have resources on hand to talk a person into coming out without harming anybody including themselves," Catren said. "So it seems like a lot and it is a lot of people there, no doubt, but we wouldn't want to sit back and say if only we had a couple more people we could have resolved it to where the person lived or we could have better protected the public. You don't ever want to second guess like that."