November 4, 2010 in City

Police standoff ends peacefully near Westview Elementary

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A police standoff with an unstable, armed man has ended peacefully near Westview Elementary School in northwest Spokane this morning. School officials earlier decided to close the school for the day.

Police cordoned off an area at North Fotheringham Street and West Decatur Avenue and sent a negotiator to the scene to try to get the man to give up his handgun peacefully.

The incident ended after negotiators contacted the man, who was taken into protective custody about 9:30 a.m., said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, police spokeswoman.

The home where the standoff took place is across the street from Westview, 6104 N. Moore St. The school is just to the south.

Terren Roloff, school spokeswoman, said administrators made the decision to close the school about 8:30 a.m.

DeRuwe said school staff and students were not being allowed to enter the building about 8 a.m. At the time, school officials were considering their options for today’s class session, she said, but then decided that closure for the day was the safest choice.

The incident began about 6 a.m.

DeRuwe said the man had been in an argument with family members and was described as suicidal. At one point, the man fired his weapon prior to police arrival, and that heightened tension and police response.

DeRuwe said that the man refused to comply with police orders to defuse the risky situation, refusing to drop his weapon and come out of the house.

SWAT officers arrived on the scene along with a contingent of public school safety officers. Additional patrol officers were called to control traffic and keep the area cordoned off. A mobile command post was set up. Fire department paramedics and a private ambulance were also on the scene.

Police went door-to-door to adjacent homes to warn residents to stay inside and possibly seek shelter in their basements, she said.

School officials notified parents and with the help of police set up a safe zone for any arriving children who were fed and supervised until their parents arrived. The Westview school bus ran its regular route and brought children to the safe zone as well.

In a news release later in the day, DeRuwe said, “This was a truly great collaborative effort by both Spokane Public Schools and the Spokane Police Department to guarantee the safety of our neighborhoods and community.”

“We are going to provide him with the help he needs,” DeRuwe said earlier at the scene.

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