Mental health response in Harrisonburg resolved without incident
The situation unfolded at 9 a.m. as officers with the Harrisonburg Police Department were serving an emergency custody order on a male at the Motel 6 on South Main Street.
The ECO was obtained by family members who were concerned about his mental health. The 29-year-old male from New York then barricaded himself inside his hotel room with a knife and threatened to harm himself.
Officers then established a perimeter to contain any possible threat to others in the area. Members of HPD’s Crisis Negotiations Team (and Special Weapons and Tactics were requested to respond to the incident.
Once the immediate area was secured, members of HPD’s Patrol Division established communication with the male. CNT team members, who receive specialized training in negotiating peaceful resolutions to crisis situations, arrived on location and continued this communication for nearly two hours in an attempt to gain compliance.
While negotiations were taking place, the male exited the room and approached officers with a knife. An officer deployed a Taser which was ineffective, and the subject returned inside the room.
At approximately 11:10 a.m., the male once again exited his room, still armed with a knife and approached SWAT officers maintaining the perimeter.
At this time, two less lethal impact munitions were deployed as he was attempting to breach the perimeter with the knife. As a result of utilizing the less lethal option, HPD officers were able to take the subject into custody without injury.
Taser devices and impact munitions are designed with the intent of eliciting a degree of incapacitation, giving law enforcement an opportunity to safely apprehend an individual.
“It’s always dangerous dealing with individuals in crisis, especially when they are armed with a weapon. In this situation, officers were patient and methodical with their tactics and attempts to safely take the male into custody,” Interim Police Chief Gabriel Camacho said.
Camacho went on to say, “This is a prime example of why we send officers to advanced trainings such as Integrating Communications, and Tactics, Crisis Intervention Team training and other de-escalation tactics.”