A standoff that ran for hours and shut down two major downtown streets during Friday evening’s rush hour ended loudly and abruptly around 8 p.m., as Spokane police officers fired bean bag rounds and set off a flash-bang grenade.
Police were called to the corner of Sprague Avenue and Browne Street around 3 p.m. after Frontier Behavioral Health reported that a man was threatening himself with a knife, said police spokeswoman Monique Cotton. The man sat in the grass below the railroad tracks as police tried for hours to get him to put the knife down. Sprague Avenue was closed between Bernard and Division and Browne was closed south of Riverside Avenue.
The goal was to keep the man, who has not been identified, from harming himself or others, Cotton said.
The knife had a fixed blade about five inches long, said Lt. Craig Meidl. “He had the knife in his hand the majority of the time, pointed at his chest,” he said. “We tried bribing him with cigarettes, water, food.”
The negotiations stopped with no warning.
“He abruptly stood up and started to walk away,” Meidl said. Police were concerned about letting him wander downtown while armed, he said, so police fired their non-lethal shotguns and attempted to stun the man with a Taser.
The man was uninjured and walked to a gurney to be taken to a local hospital for a mental evaluation, Meidl said.
Police later discovered that the man also was armed with a BB gun that resembled a real weapon. “This was in the bag he kept reaching for,” Meidl said as he held the handgun.