Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Police & Fire

Suicidal gunman arrested after 6-hour standoff on I-75

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    Traffic is seen from the Summit Street overpass backed up on I-75 as the interstate is closed because of a police situation in Monroe County.

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    The Blade
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LUNA PIER, Mich. — A potentially suicidal gunman forced all rush-hour traffic to a standstill Thursday on I-75.

The man broadcast on Facebook threats to law enforcement if they tried to detain him while in his car with a gun, officials said. Troopers arrested him after a six-hour highway standoff in Monroe County.

Authorities did not release his name pending arraignment Friday in 1st District Court. He faces charges of resisting arrest and fleeing and eluding.

The case began about 4 a.m. as a welfare check for a suicidal man in Oakland County. Sheriff's deputies unsuccessfully tried stopping his vehicle, and then continued on pursuit, said 1st Lt. Tony Cuevas, commander of the Michigan State Police Monroe post.

State police chased his car on southbound I-75 into Wayne and Monroe counties. The pursuit ended about 5:20 a.m. near Gaynier Road, where deputies laid a device to puncture his tires, Lieutenant Cuevas said.

Negotiators spoke to the man as both northbound and southbound traffic came to an ordered halt. Troopers at about 11:25 a.m. detained him and secured his gun.

“I think the negotiation process, even though long, worked out very well. Any time we can negotiate to save a life, it's worth it,” Lieutenant Cuevas said.

Although an inconvenience for drivers, the lieutenant said they had to ensure safety for all involved. Troopers shut down northbound lanes as well in case the man started firing.

“It has to play out, because generally in these situations, time is on our side. We have the resources. We can stay here longer than the suspect can,” Lieutenant Cuevas said.

Medical personnel evaluated the man, who had no visible signs of injury. He is detained in the Monroe County jail.

Neighbor Ken Strochine, 62, could hear police negotiations amid an eerie lack of interstate noise. He was pleased with law enforcement’s efforts, and criticized the man for affecting so many others.

“You've got Detroit and Toledo — they're coordinating with each other — all the people waiting for their parts so they can work for the day,” Mr. Strochine said.

Truck driver Ed Chambers, 48, of St. Louis, waited for two hours on I-75. He was driving to Ontario to obtain hydrogen for transport.

Mr. Chambers said that is time he could have spent with family. A call to his wife, however, provided greater perspective.

“She's like, listen, you've got to think about what he's going though. And you’ve got to think about his family, and how it's going to affect them. You don’t know what pushed him to this point,” Mr. Chambers said.

Commercial motorists looking for alternative routes, meanwhile, inundated Erie Township. Mike Jones, of Columbus, sat in stopped traffic on South Dixie Highway.

Mr. Jones was hauling food products in his truck. He described the pervasive traffic as “crazy,” but said all he could do was wait.

“The food has got to go to the supermarket,” he said.

Contact Ryan Dunn at rdunn@theblade.com, 419-724-6095 or on Twitter @rdunnblade.

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