“Don’t do it! Don’t do it!” Sgt. Jon Reckenwald yelled, his gun drawn and pointed at R.V., who was on his back, on the ground next to a gas station in the Hammock, a gun of his own drawn–and pointed at his own head. “Drop it! Drop the gun!”
R.V. is a 55-year-old resident of Duke Road in Jacksonville. He had ridden his motorcycle down to the Hammock on Friday afternoon, where he said he planned to kill himself. A missing person report had been issued about R.V. in Jacksonville, noting that he had suicidal tendencies. “I could clearly see his finger was on the trigger,” one of the Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies who responded to the incident reported.
R.V. then sat up, shirtless and slumped over, the gun still at his head as deputies repeated their calls to “please drop the gun.”
“What’s going on over there, talk to me, what’s going on?” a deputy yells out. “Put the gun down, let’s talk. Tell me your name.” The 55 year old “appeared to be in distress and he appeared to be suffering from some type of emotional crisis,” the deputy reported. But he did not pull the trigger, allowing members of the negotiating team to arrive and continue attempts to de-escalate the situation.
“During this time, Chief J. Welker and other units assembled a reactionary type team together, with the hopes of having an opportunity to separate Richard from the firearm in a safe manner,” an incident report states, referring to the sheriff’s Crisis Negotiation Team. Deputies then seized an opportunity, moving suddenly, rapidly and with precision. R.V. momentarily put the firearm down–he apparently wanted to have one last cigarette. Before he could pick it up again, Cpl. Shane Meehan fired a non-lethal beanbag round at him, striking him in the hand as others moved in. R.V.’s confusion allowed deputies to move in, seize the gun and get control of R.V. No one was hurt.
He was transported to Halifax hospital as a Baker Act. The incident unfolded in mid-afternoon Friday at the Citgo gas station at 5484 Ocean Shore Boulevard in the Hammock.
For sheriff’s deputies, it was the second successful de-escalation of a suicidal situation in a week. On April 30, deputies had responded to a property at Serbian Bellflower Trail, where a 28-year-old woman told them that her 31-year-old boyfriend, K.R., was threatening to kill himself with a gun to his head. K.R. had been drinking. The couple had argued. The argument had escalated. It ended with the gun drawn. The woman left the house with her child to seek safety.
Deputies surrounded the house and attempted several times to reach K.R. by phone, without success. When they used a public address system, he eventually came out, unarmed, and was secured. He told deputies that he’d had no intentions of hurting his girlfriend or himself, only that he was very upset over certain relationship issues, and that he’d not been taking his medication for his mental health. But his girlfriend told deputies that he’d mentioned putting a gun to his head not long before that incident, prompting authorities to start proceedings for a Risk Protection Order–the sort of intervention that allows authorities, through a court order, to remove a person’s weapons when that person is believed to pose a risk to self or to others. Meanwhile, the firearms were seized and submitted to the sheriff’s evidence division.
“Often around the country these situations have had a much more tragic outcome,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a release issued today. “But, in Flagler County, our deputies spend significant amounts of time training on how to successfully deescalate dangerous situations. No bad day is worth taking your life. Suicide is a permanent solution to what is usually a temporary problem and impacts many people. I am thankful our deputies were able to disarm both of them and no one was injured. Hopefully, they can now get the help they need.”
The agency also noted in its release that May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, reminding residents that “if they are dealing with a mental health crisis or have suicidal thoughts, they are not alone! There are numerous resources for help with mental health struggles in Flagler County.” See below.
The following resources are available for individuals in crisis:
In Flagler: The Crisis Triage and Treatment Unit (CTTU) is a crisis assessment and referral service for Flagler County residents experiencing behavioral health crisis. It is located at 301 Justice Lane in the Brown & Brown Outpatient building at the Vince Carter Sanctuary in Bunnell. This program is limited to individuals escorted to the program by law enforcement between the hours of noon and midnight daily. Law enforcement is able to transport individuals to SMA to assess and determine the appropriate clinical disposition. When required and appropriate, SMA then transports the individual to a receiving facility in Volusia County.
In Daytona Beach: Stewart-Marchman Act Corporation Crisis Center
1220 Willis Avenue
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Crisis Line: (800) 539 – 4228
Available 24 hours.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800/273-8255 (TALK), or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat, both available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255.
People 60 and older can call the Institute on Aging’s 24-hour, toll-free Friendship Line at 800-971-0016. IOA also makes ongoing outreach calls to lonely older adults.
If you are concerned for someone else, read about warning signs here. For additional resources, see the Speaking of Suicide website.
Good job by the deputies! People don’t seem to realize that police respond to situations like this every day. And, most of the time, they do a hellava job–especially in country that pans what the police do, expect “Social Workers” (who people usually trash-talk even more than they do cops) to perform automatic magic in such situations–while not being willing to invest their tax dollars into much needed mental health services.