By Rosemary Horvath
The Evart Police Department has a man in his early 20s in custody who will undergo evaluation and treatment at a medical center before he is charged and arraigned, said Evart Police Chief Kendra Backing Tuesday.
Alcohol was not a factor and the chief did not know if the suspect was under influence of any substances when he precipitated a standoff with police at his south side Evart residence following a civil standby with his estranged wife.
Accompanied by her family members, at around 11 a.m. Monday, she had Evart police standby while she removed personal items from the home.
“Police will be asked to respond to make sure there are no problems and that peace is maintained in a civil standby,” Backing said. “She called us and was able to remove items then she left with her family.”
The suspect who was alone in the house subsequently called upon a church pastor for consultation. Inside the house, the pastor saw the suspect display a gun and make threats to harm himself.
The pastor phoned Meceola Central Dispatch 911 Center in Paris.
“All that can be heard is him telling the suspect to put the gun down,” before the connection went dead, Backing said of the 911 emergency call.
Dispatch activated Michigan State Police emergency response team composed of troopers and Osceola County sheriff deputies. The team and village police staged a perimeter around the residence.
Around 2:45 p.m. able-bodied residents in the neighborhood were ordered to evacuate. Roadways were blocked.
“A four-hour standoff lasted until about 7 p.m.,” Backing said. “A hostage negotiator came in and was able to reconnect with the suspect on a cell phone. The suspect displayed agitation, calm, anger at times and emotion. Intent of the negotiators is to defuse the situation to keep the suspect talking as long as possible.”
The pastor remained in the house by choice, Backing said, adding he was never held against his will and free to leave at any time.
“He eventually left at the request of law enforcement when it was an appropriate time,” she said.
The situation was not deemed a hostage situation due to the pastor’s free will. The chief could not substantiate whether the suspect and pastor had a previous connection.
Also, the estranged wife was not involved in the standoff. Backing has been in contact with the wife’s father.
“I do know she is with her family,” the chief said. “They are grateful, as are we, that everything ended peacefully.”
Name of the suspect will not be released until he is arraigned in district court. “Getting him some treatment will take precedent over charges at this time,” the chief added.
The couple was reported to be married but Backing was uncertain if they had children in common, she said.