Emergency personnel shut down Ward St. between Vernon and Baker Tuesday evening as a distraught man at a fourth-storey window in the Medical Arts Building threatened to jump and taunted police.
“At approximately 4:30 p.m., Nelson Police received a report of a suicidal male who had barricaded himself in his estranged girlfriend’s downtown residence. The former girlfriend had succeeded in escaping from the apartment so that she could alert police of the male’s intention to kill himself or be killed by police,” reads a press release from Sgt. Dino Falcone.
The police evacuated the building and a negotiator in the hallway attempted to reason with the man through the door.
“We had Nelson Hydro disconnect the power. The reason we do that is we want the negotiator with him to have no distractions, not even the fridge or water or stereo. It’s also a safety issue, in case there’s anything flammable inside,” Falcone told the Star.
Falcone said the tactic was meant to fatigue the individual, and make him uncomfortable. As the night progressed, he was left alone in the dark. During that time passersby were encouraged to move along and keep a safe distance.
While the negotiator spoke with the man, 29 emergency personnel responded to the situation in a variety of ways. Falcone said though that’s an impressive turnout, a big city could easily see double the number in a situation like this.
Police quickly learned the man had a history of violence.
“Investigators determined that by being in company of the female victim, the 31-year-old male was in violation of a no contact order that had been issued subsequent to a domestic assault. Police located, contained and isolated the male in the woman’s apartment.”
The lock-down and six-hour standoff involved the male making verbal threats to kill himself either by self-mutilation, jumping out the window or having police shoot him.
The man was shirtless and visibly bleeding from his face.
“The suspect was armed with several weapons including a large meat cleaver. During tense negotiations with police, the suspect continually threw furniture around and eventually destroyed or damaged all of the apartment’s contents,” said Falcone.
The man eventually surrendered the cleaver and police entered the apartment, which had been heavily barricaded, at approximately 11 p.m.
“As police began to enter the apartment the suspect suddenly decided to launch himself out of a window and police were very fortunate in being able to grab the man’s arms and upper torso before he fell to the ground; eventually hauling him back into the dwelling.”
Though the fire department was on scene with an aerial unit, it was not ultimately used during the rescue.
The suspect was apprehended under the Mental Health Act. Police are also recommending charges of mischief over $5000, failure to comply with an undertaking, and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
“The Nelson Police Department would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for the immediate and professional response and support rendered by the Nelson Fire and Rescue Services, the Nelson RCMP, the BC Ambulance Service, Nelson Hydro and the general public who were negatively affected during the span of this encounter.”
The suspect is currently in custody and awaiting a bail hearing.