A standoff between law enforcement and an armed man in the 1100 block of Eckerson Road in Centralia ended with the individual’s death by suicide early Monday morning after he barricaded himself in a house, according to the Centralia Police Department.
No other injuries were reported.
Law enforcement officers were still holding the scene for investigation as of 9:30 a.m. on Monday.
“This was not the outcome we wanted,” Centralia Police Department Chief Stacy Denham told The Chronicle.
The incident reportedly began as a neighborhood dispute that escalated when one neighbor took out a gun and pointed it at the other neighbor on Sunday, Denham said.
A bystander reported seeing police vehicles at the scene at about 6:30 p.m.
After officers with the Centralia Police Department arrived, a single gunshot was reportedly fired from the residence, prompting law enforcement to call in Thurston County SWAT for aid.
The man, who has not been identified by law enforcement, already had a warrant out for his arrest for a misdemeanor offense, according to the Centralia Police Department.
The man reportedly has a history of mental health problems, which have caused previous interactions with Centralia officers over the last year, Denham said.
Officers had been trying to get the individual access to mental health treatment, Denham added.
On Sunday night, Denham said officers had reason to believe the man “believes the government is trying to kill him.”
Law enforcement remained in a “holding pattern” through midnight or so, at which point the man became “more aggressive” and made “irrational” demands, Denham said.
“He unfortunately was holding a gun to his mouth and was demanding that we kill him,” Denham said.
At one point, the man reportedly pointed the gun toward SWAT members surrounding the house, but no shots were exchanged.
Law enforcement attempted to negotiate with the individual via a speaker system, but “he refused to talk to anybody,” said Denham. “He just kept making statements and requests that obviously we could not provide him.”
The SWAT team “introduced gas” sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. but instead of drawing the individual out, he barricaded himself deeper inside the house.
SWAT then breached the front door of the house. At about 3 a.m., officers breached the door to a room of the house where they believed the man was.
Upon entering the room, they found the man unconscious with a gunshot wound to his chest. A medic declared him dead at the scene.
The Lewis County Coroner’s Office had not formally determined the individual’s cause and manner of death as of 10:30 a.m. on Monday.
“It really is a sad ending to an unfortunate situation,” Denham said. “It is tragic because we knew. We’d been attempting to get this individual mental health help over the last year.”
The way the individual had “fortified” his house on Eckerson Road made it difficult for officers to reach him to connect him with mental health resources, Denham said.
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 or suicidepreventionlifeline.org
• Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 or text to 838255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/
• Lifeline Crisis Chat: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/lifelinechat.aspx
• Crisis Text Line: 741741 or www.crisistextline.org/
• Lewis County 24-hour Crisis Line: 800-803-8833 or 360-807-2440.
• NAMI Information Line: 800-950-6264, or visit namilewiscountywa.org to connect with the local chapter
• Cascade Community Healthcare: 360-807-2440 or cascadecommunityhealthcare.org
• A full list of behavioral health agencies in Washington, broken out by county, is available online at www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/606019-BHADirectory.pdf