With ‘compassion,’ Howell cop talks armed man out of suicide, police say
An armed and apparently suicidal man engaged Howell Township police in two hours of tense negotiations before relenting, and submitting to hospital observation, authorities said.
The standoff involving Patrolman Robert Hill took place near the Manasquan River Tuesday afternoon, off Squankum-Yellowbrook Road (Monmouth Coiunty Route 524a).
Police, who declined to identify the individual, said that he was armed with his own, legally owned handgun. Based on his behavior, police believed he was either heavily medicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, police said. No charges have been filed at present.
The incident began as a missing-persons report taken by Detective Robert Ortenzi at about noon. The missing individual, described as 45 years old and a township resident, left a note for his family that indicated suicidal tendencies, police said.
Police determined that he had his car and gun when he disappeared, police said.
Officers entered his information into a law enforcement database, notified police agencies throughout New Jersey, and conducted cell-phone pings to establish his whereabouts.
The pings allowed police to find him at an access point to the river, several hundred feet from the county highway.
He was found in his car, engine running, in a small parking area, and surrounded, while part of the county road was blocked to keep out school buses bringing students home and passing drivers, police said.
The nearby Board of Education building served as a staging area, but neither the Board nor the school district was directly involved.
According to police, at no time during the exchanges with Hill did the individual point the weapon at police or at himself. Officers said he appeared to be drifting in and out of sleep in the car.
After exiting the car and surrendering the gun, he was brought to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for treatment and psychological evaluation.
In a prepared comment, Police Chief Andrew Kudrick lauded Hill's course of action.
"The compassion Patrol Officer Robert Hill displayed through his conversation with the distraught individual is undoubtedly the reason why there was a successful resolution to this incident. He truly did save his life," Kudrick said.
The Monmouth County Emergency Response Team provided support.