15-hour standoff outside of Breckenridge ends peacefully
October 18, 2018
A man engaged in a standoff with law enforcement officials outside of Breckenridge was peacefully taken into custody on Thursday afternoon, ending a more than 15-hour stalemate with members of the Summit County Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's office received a call at about 9:50 on Wednesday night from a concerned family member requesting a welfare check on a man living on Shekel Lane in unincorporated Summit County north of Breckenridge. The family member told officers that the man was heavily intoxicated, and threatening to harm himself and neighbors, Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said. The suspect's name has not been released.
Deputies were initially unable to make contact with anyone at the residence, though the situation quickly began to devolve after the man started calling into Summit County Dispatch and making threats against neighbors and law enforcement officers. The Summit County SWAT Team was dispatched to the scene, and set up a perimeter around the house.
Additionally, text notifications went out to about 200 residents in the area informing them to shelter inside their homes. Evacuations by police escort for residents took place throughout the night and well into Thursday morning.
Deputies spent the night watching the house and trying to make contact with the individual. The last contact that was made before his arrest was around midnight, FitzSimons said. The standoff continued Thursday morning, as deputies took tactical positions around the house to wait for contact.
"Since nobody else was in danger we decided to sit on the residence to make contact," said FitzSimons.
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Waiting continued for most of the day, broken up by intermittent strategy meetings between sheriff's officials and deputies to determine the best courses of action, and ushering unsuspecting motorists out of the area. But at around 1:15 p.m., officers made a breakthrough. The suspect's wife reached out to deputies saying that her husband called her and wanted to speak with her. She arrived on scene soon thereafter, and began assisting law enforcement officials.
Minutes later, the man announced via phone that he was coming out of the house. Members of the SWAT Team cautiously approached the house — wielding both lethal and non-lethal ammunition — and took the man into custody. When he emerged from the house, first on the upstairs deck and later from the ground floor, he began shouting profanities at the officers, but was otherwise taken into custody without incident.
"I'm just really pleased with the peaceful outcome of this," said FitzSimons. "And I'm just so proud of not only our deputies, but the other local law enforcement agencies that assisted us, and obviously the efforts of our SWAT Team and our negotiator."
According to FitzSimons, the suspect was likely suffering from a mental health crisis at the time of the threats, as well as heavy intoxication. He noted that the first step, if necessary, was to provide detoxification and mental health treatment to the man before moving ahead with criminal charges.
District Attorney Bruce Brown said that the man would likely be charged with menacing, if any charges are brought against him. He noted that the District Attorney's Office would evaluate more complete reports in the coming days, and determine whether a criminal charge is necessary.
"That's what fits the conduct," said Brown. "If you make a threat to kill with a capacity to carry it out, we generally call that menacing…but I have to evaluate the words that were spoken and the circumstances. It becomes very difficult to know with certainty whether anyone will act on a threat. All you can do is look at the words and circumstances and take it at face value."