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 During the early morning hours of Dec. 3, a 41-year-old man allegedly called 911 and attempted to instigate responding police officers into fatally shooting him at Elite Plumbing & Heating, 4915 Fernlee Ave.

During the early morning hours of Dec. 3, a 41-year-old man allegedly called 911 and attempted to instigate responding police officers into fatally shooting him at Elite Plumbing & Heating, 4915 Fernlee Ave.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

Police apprehend man who allegedly wanted to die in shootout with officers

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published December 3, 2019


ROYAL OAK — After more than a two-hour standoff, police were able to disable a 41-year-old man who allegedly had called 911 and indicated that he had a gun and wanted to kill himself in a shootout with police, and he was transported to Beaumont Hospital for a mental health evaluation.

At approximately 2:23 a.m. Dec. 3, the Royal Oak Police Department responded to Elite Plumbing & Heating, 4915 Fernlee Ave., which is in an industrial area near West 14 Mile Road and Coolidge Highway.

Police said the man had been employed at the business, but they were not sure if he was currently an employee at the time of the incident. Police said that the man is known to law enforcement.

“We set up a perimeter around him to keep the scene as safe as possible. We continued to try to negotiate with him over the phone, and actually a Birmingham lieutenant who is a trained negotiator made it to the scene. We passed the phone to him, and he picked up the negotiations,” Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue said. “My understanding is (the subject) was kind of all over.”

Besides Birmingham, officers also responded from Troy, Clawson, Madison Heights and Berkley to help establish the perimeter.

The subject was armed with a rifle and repeatedly exited and entered the business, police said.

“Although he never pointed the rifle directly at anyone, he did try to provoke officers into shooting him by attempting to walk up on officers and quickly reaching for the weapon,” said Lt. Al Carter, of the Royal Oak Police Department. “At one point, he approached a perimeter officer and forced him into an area where the officer had nowhere to retreat, all the while holding the rifle at his side and motioning like he was about to level it at the officer.”

At that point, he said, other officers distracted the subject and he turned his attention to them before eventually returning to the business.

The Oakland County SWAT team, including a tank, arrived at that point and assumed control of the inner perimeter. Just before 5 a.m., law enforcement shot the subject in the leg with a less-lethal munition similar to a plastic bullet, temporarily disabling him, Carter said.

First responders took the subject into custody and transported him to Beaumont Hospital for minor injuries and the mental health evaluation.

After the mental health evaluation is complete, Carter said, the Royal Oak Police Department’s detective bureau would determine whether to levy criminal charges against the subject regarding the incident.

“The officers on scene utilized excellent teamwork and showed tremendous restraint while continuing to attempt to de-escalate the situation. This individual stated several times he wanted to shoot it out with police,” O’Donohue said. “I can’t emphasize enough what a great job our officers did tonight — particularly the level of restraint they exercised in this incident.”

He said that this is not the first time local law enforcement has dealt with a subject wishing to die by police gunfire.

“We had almost a similar situation five or six years ago at a different business, where an individual actually fired some shots inside his business,” O’Donohue said. “We go to more suicides than homicides and fatal accidents combined. Nobody is unaffected by mental health issues. There’s only so much police can do, but we as a society in general need to be very serious about it and do the best we can to help them.”