KENNEWICK — It took more than five hours for Kennewick police and the Tri-City Regional SWAT Team to apprehend a 32-year-old who fired a gun in his apartment Monday morning.
Kennewick police were called to the Irving Place Apartments at 9:30 a.m. after getting a report that the resident in unit K101 had a gun, said Sgt. Ken Lattin.
A family member reportedly saw him fire the gun and left to call 911. No one was hit, Lattin said. The man lives with his wife at the apartment, but Lattin wouldn't say if that was who called police.
The man never tried to detain anyone and "to our knowledge never tried to harm anybody," Lattin said.
Officers attempted to make contact with the man, but got no response. They then went to neighboring units to evacuate residents. Some opted to stay in their homes.
Belinda Mendoza said her grandmother lives in the K building and was evacuated, but she was able to go to Mendoza's mother-in-law's apartment in the L building.
Mendoza, who lives in the H building, watched the action from her minivan for a short time before driving around the complex to get to her unit. She then told the Herald that from her apartment she could see the SWAT vehicle and five officers with guns preparing to approach K101.
SWAT Team members used a "flash bang," which produces a loud boom outside the apartment to try to get the man's attention or wake him if he was inside sleeping.
They used a loudspeaker to try to call him out. After getting no response, officers used armored vehicles as shields to get close to break out the windows to look inside.
Officers finally made verbal contact with the man around 2:20 p.m., but he refused to come out. About 20 minutes later, they found him hiding in the bathroom and took him into custody.
He was taken to the hospital to be treated for self-inflicted cuts and evaluated. He could face possible charges of discharging a weapon or reckless endangerment, which are misdemeanor offenses, Lattin said.
Lattin acknowledged that it was a long process involving several officers and administrators from multiple Tri-City agencies, but emphasized that safety is crucial when dealing with incidents like this.
"When we have somebody that's armed, we certainly don't want to force their hand," he said. "We don't want to barge in there."
Officers didn't know the man's psychological state and didn't want to risk having him shoot at them or himself.
"It's worth it in the end because everybody goes home safe," Lattin said.
-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org