Thirteen youngsters were given a ride in an armored SWAT truck Wednesday as police escorted them away from a day care center across the street from where a mentally ill man with access to six firearms was holed up inside his house.
After about four hours, the 63-year-old man eventually was removed from his home on Coquette Street and taken to the hospital where he was to be evaluated by mental health experts, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.
Officers were called to the home at 2:20 p.m. after family members reported the man was suffering a psychological breakdown, police said.
The man, whose name was not released Wednesday, is described as a war veteran with a long history of mental issues.
Making matters more tense was the fact the man had access to several firearms. He was alone in the house when officers arrived, police said.
"This was a difficult situation at first," Budreau said.
Officers trained in crisis negation tried to coax the man out of the home to receive help.
Meanwhile, nearby homes and a day care center across the street were evacuated. The kids were loaded into the department's huge SWAT vehicle and driven away from the standoff, Budreau said.
"The kids were given a ride to safety until we got the situation under control," Budreau said.
The kids were later reunited with their parents, Budreau said.
Officers tried to reach the man by phone but had no luck. They then used loud speakers to attempt to communicate with him.
A mental health case worker assisted the officers at the scene.
When the man refused to exit the home after hours had passed, a robot with a mounted camera was deployed inside the home.
"The robot was used as a safety measure to see what was going on inside the home," Medford police Chief Tim George said. "They wanted to see if there was a potentially dangerous situation."
After the robot entered the home, the man began communicating with police. Officers then entered the home and took the man into custody.
He was taken to Rogue Regional Medical Center to be seen by mental health specialists.
No criminal charges are pending against the man, police said.
His guns were taken from the residence by officers and are being stored until the man's mental health condition is treated.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.