An armored personnel carrier was used in Orchard Park to shield people fleeing the potential line of fire of a suicidal man, who held police at bay for several hours.
In the end, the 46-year-old man, who lives with a girlfriend in an apartment complex at Abbott and Berg roads, surrendered peacefully early Thursday morning and was taken to Erie County Medical Center for an evaluation, according to Police Chief Mark Pacholec. No charges were filed and the man’s name was not released by police.
“He didn’t do anything criminal. He didn’t threaten anybody, other than himself,” Pacholec said.
At about 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, the man’s girlfriend called 911 after the couple had a disagreement. “He made some statements to her that he was threatening to kill himself,” the police chief related. There were two long guns, along with ammunition, in plain view in the apartment.
After the girlfriend fled, additional police manpower and resources were mobilized, including the special weapons and tactic teams from Orchard Park and Hamburg, negotiators from the West Seneca and Hamburg’s armored personnel carrier. Approximately 50 officers, also including some from Lackawanna, responded to the scene.
“It’s better to have them ... if there would have been some type of more serious engagement,” Pacholec said.
There was concern the man might start firing one of the guns in the apartment. “He had a field of view of about 150 yards,” Pacholec said.
The man was holed up in an upper apartment of an eight-unit building, located behind a commercial laundry on the southeast corner of the intersection.
Traffic was shut down; residents of the apartment building and patrons of a nearby restaurant were evacuated; and other residents were advised to remain inside.
The armored personnel carrier was used to shield evacuees as they fled the buildings, the chief said.
“When we first started ... we could see him ... walking in the apartment,” Pacholec said. But as it grew darker outside, the man turned off lights inside and didn’t respond to police attempts to contact him via telephone or loudspeaker.
“Nothing,” Pacholec said.
Shortly after midnight, the siren on the armored vehicle was sounded, waking the man – “and a lot of others,” the police chief said.
Telephone contact was established and, after about 15 minutes, the man agreed to come out.
“This was a best-case scenario,” Pacholec said.