At a time when many local police departments focus on de-escalation tactics and training, Oceanside Police successfully used this training to disarm a man carrying multiple weapons and in mental distress using only his words. .
On Friday morning, Oceanside Police received a complaint about a man armed with three knives, a machete and a hatchet who was ranting in the hallways of Extra Space Storage near the intersection of Oceanside Boulevard and Beverly Glen Drive.
Once the incident was over, Det. Mark Theriot, the lead negotiator explained how they disarmed the man.
“Any time someone is armed with multiple knives, multiple weapons, the threat level is extremely high,” Theriot said.
Around 9 a.m., Theriot began the long and sometimes arduous process of surrendering safely.
“It was sometimes hard to decipher exactly who he was shouting at, whether it was me or those other voices,” Theriot said. “Sometimes it also takes a lot of patience.”
Theriot said the man was having a manic episode, pacing, screaming and hearing voices in his head. Equally disturbing was the purpose of his presence in the warehouse: he told police his daughter was trapped in one of the units and was screaming for help.
The police checked, however, and her daughter was fine and away from Extra Space Storage. Police say the man was actually renting space there, which is how he got inside in the first place.
“He wasn’t responding very well to communication, to all kinds of commands,” Theriot said. “He believed…he was there to help someone, and, in a way, we were on the way.”
Theriot said the man, who spoke to her from opposite ends of a long hallway for four hours, did not verbally threaten police or threaten to kill himself. In fact, he periodically dropped his weapons, only to pick them up again.
Hour-long negotiations take up a lot of law enforcement resources for a long time – when does that become counterproductive?
“It’s hard to gauge — it’s something supervisors and commanders running the scene have to constantly think about,” Theriot said.
Shortly before 1 p.m., the man laid down his weapons, knelt down and surrendered.
“We did not use force against someone going through a mental health crisis,” Theriot said. “Any day of the week, I would consider this a success.”
After the incident, the man was taken to San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital for treatment.