WESTERLY — A 48-year-old local man is expected to face charges following a near five-hour standoff with police at a Newton Avenue home on Friday night and Saturday morning in which he fired more than a dozen arrows out of a window at officers, striking and damaging a police cruiser.
Westerly officers took the suspect, who was not identified as a result of an ongoing investigation, into custody around 2:15 a.m. Saturday after members of the Westerly Police Department's Special Reaction Team forced him out of the apartment using gas grenades.
The suspect was eventually taken to a nearby hospital for mental health analysis and treatment, Police Chief Shawn Lacey said. Despite the suspect shooting multiple arrows, Lacey said there were no injuries.
"In terms of a response like this, ending after a tough night with no injuries and the individual able to get help ... that's the best ending we could have hoped for, " said Lacey, who is trained as a negotiator and aided his personnel in the response on Friday.
The standoff began around 9:15 p.m. after friends of the suspect contacted police to seek a well-being check for the 48-year-old man, of 23 Newtown Ave., after he had sent text messages threatening self-harm. Lacey said officers were alerted that he wanted police to shoot him.
Arriving officers were cautious, Lacey said, but were still met by a couple arrows shot from a bow by the suspect out of his third-floor window.
"As soon as they arrived at the property, he began shooting arrows at them," Lacey said. "No one was hit, but one the arrows struck and damaged one of the department's police cruisers."
Due to safety concerns, Lacey said officers immediately contacted families on the first and second floor, asking them to shelter in place. When the suspect continued to fire, Lacey said tactical officers conducted an evacuation and were able to move those families safely from the house to the department's nearby mobile command unit.
Lacey said other neighbors were also notified of the possible danger and asked to shelter in place.
Once those in the neighborhood were determined to be safe, the police said tactical officers began establishing a response in the front and back hallways leading to the apartment. The police said the suspect became aware of the activity and fired several arrows at the doorways to the home, causing arrows to pierce through both the front and back entrance doors and adjacent walls.
Lacey said he and another department negotiator made several attempts to calm the suspect, talking with him by phone, but were unable to do so over the course of several hours. During the conversations, the suspect also threatened to use a 9 mm handgun that he showed officers through an apartment window.
Concerned that he could potentially cause harm and further damage with the gun, Lacey said a response was coordinated and officers fired a low-impact gas grenade in the apartment, followed by a second, around 2 a.m. The grenades, which use a non-lethal pepper-spray and smoke combination, eventually helped force the suspect out.
During the standoff, Lacey said the suspect fired a total of 19 arrows, including six inside and 13 shot out of windows. Lacey said most arrows did not strike anything but the roadway.
The case remains under investigation and the department will seek a warrant for the suspect's arrest. Lacey said charges would likely include felony assault with a dangerous weapon, vandalism and disorderly conduct.
"Right now, the focus remains getting him the help he needs. That is a top priority," Lacey said.