Suicidal man held police at bay for five hours
A suicidal man is in critical condition at Minden Medical Center today after holding law enforcement agencies at bay for several hours Sunday.
James Warner, 54, of the 800 block of Lewisville Road was taken to the hospital by Pafford Ambulance late yesterday afternoon after over-dosing on several medications.
"It was a long day, but in the end, everybody got to go home," said Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper.
Before noon, a 9-1-1 call from Warner's estranged wife reportedlly tipped off police that Warner wanted to take his life.
"I got there around noon, and he had barricaded himself in the house," Cropper said. "Some of my officers were already there, along with a Webster Parish Sheriff's deputy. He (Warner) told his wife he was going to kill himself and any police officers that tried to come in the house."
Cropper said he felt like time was on their side since the man was alone in the house, and when he first arrived on the scene, he could see Warner in the doorway of his house as he talked to him by phone.
"His wife and child were out of town, and we knew he was in there alone," Cropper said. "I had him on the line with me when he passed out. He was wanting to talk to somebody really, really bad, and the more I talked to him, the more slurred his speech got. He kept rambling, then all of a sudden he just quit talking."
Cropper said the phone line was left open for quite some time.
"I finally hung my phone up, and when I tried to call him back, I just got a busy signal," he said.
Around 1 p.m. Cropper made the decision to have power cut to the house.
"His wife said he'd done this once before – tried to commit suicide," Cropper said. "That time, he turned on the gas, struck a match and burned himself really bad. So, that was behind the decision to turn off his power – that and to try and make him uncomfortable."
In addition to Minden Police and the sheriff's office, Cropper said he talked by phone to a representative with the Louisiana State Police SWAT team.
"They sent a liaison over, and he told us about Bossier Police Department's robot," Cropper said. "They had used it on prior occasions."
Cropper said he felt confident Warner had passed out but had seen a rifle in his hand when he was at the door.
"I didn't want anybody to get hurt, so we contacted Bossier P.D., and they loaded to robot up and came over," he said.
Cropper said around 5 p.m., law enforcement breeched the front door of the residence and sent the robot inside with officers behind it.
"It's just like a mechanical person," he said. "It sees, it hears, it throws light out. It can scan the whole room, and from the truck, we were able to tell officers what the robot was seeing."
Cropper said when the robot entered the kitchen, they could see Warner lying on the floor with a rifle in his hand.
Cropper said a Pafford ambulance, which had been waiting near a convenience store on the corner of Lewisville Road and Chandler Street, was dispatched to the rear of Warner's house.
"We knew he was still alive because we saw his arm move," Cropper said. "At 5:30 this morning, he was still in ICU (Intensive Care Unit)."
Throughout the afternoon, the chief said he talked with Warner's estranged wife.
"They had been in and out of a relationship, and recently, she told him it wasn't going to work," Cropper said. "And recently, she said he'd become more agitated and mad at her. She got to the point where she was scared to see him, and she finally told him she wasn't coming back."
Cropper said the couple has a seven-year-old daughter, who was with her mother at the time of the incident.