Man allegedly threatens to shoot self at North Bend church
October 2, 2008 · Updated 10:19 AM
A standoff between police and a man who allegedly threatened to kill himself at the North Bend Community Church June 21 ended with a bang.
No shots were fired when King County SWAT officers apprehended the suspect and nobody was injured during the incident. Eye witnesses described a loud bang from a grenade-like object tossed by SWAT members that stunned the man before officers swarmed in to make the arrest.
Sgt. Joseph Hodgson, chief of police for King County Sheriff's Office in North Bend, declined to comment on the specific tactic used to subdue the man.
He also declined to identify the individual or the specific charges the man was taken into custody on, stating the department doesn't reveal the names of suspects until they are charged in court.
Hodgson did say the man was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for evaluation.
The man was identified only as a 34-year-old male.
He showed up at the Mount Si Helping Hands Food Bank located at the church, 136. E. Third. St. in North Bend, at about 6:45 p.m.
Gail Gergasko, the food bank's coordinator, said the man was a former area resident who had returned to the area about a month ago after living in California.
Food bank volunteers recognized him when he came in and asked to see the church's pastor, the Rev. Pete Pete Battjes, who was not at the church.
That's when the man became agitated.
The man allegedly said he would kill himself with a gun he reportedly said was in a satchel he was carrying, Hodgson said in a release.
The church was heavily occupied at the time. Gergasko, who was not present at the time, said there were about eight volunteers plus several families receiving aid. Earlier there had been many more people there, she said.
Hodgson said the man didn't enter the church. Deputies arrived on the scene in minutes, keeping the suspect isolated in a courtyard area at the church, Hodgson said.
The church and surrounding eight-square-block area were evacuated and cordoned off, he said.
The man allegedly remained agitated and noncompliant. Sheriff's office hostage negotiators and SWAT units were called to the scene, Hodgson said.
It was the second time in a week that the SWAT team made an appearance in the Upper Valley.
On June 19, the SWAT team assisted local officers with the apprehension of an allegedly armed man wanted on a felony warrant who had holed up in a Snoqualmie home.
Law enforcement officers tried for about two hours to talk the man in North Bend down before using alternative tactics to subdue him, Hodgson said.
No gun was found in the bag, Hodgson said. No hostages had been taken, contrary to some rumors circulating the following morning, he said.
Snoqualmie Police and Eastside Fire and Rescue provided assistance during the incident.