A young man suffering from mental problems and initially believed to be waving a sword kept police at bay for nearly six hours outside his Upperline Street home on Thursday afternoon before surrendering.
The man’s weapon turned out not to be a sword, but a long wooden object, said Officer Frank Robertson. No other weapons were found on the man or in his home, and no one was harmed in the confrontation, Robertson said, though police did deploy tear gas into the home in an attempt to force the man out.
The standoff began around 12:30 p.m Thursday when the 22-year-old man’s mother called police about her son, whom she said was “irate and out of control,” said Officer Garry Flot, another NOPD spokesman. He was described as waving a sword around, but when police arrived, he locked himself inside, Flot said.
From that point, police began to assemble outside the home in the 3200 block of Upperline. Crisis negotiators on a loudspeaker tried unsuccessfully to coax the man out, and shortly before 6 p.m., SWAT team members fired several rounds of tear gas into the house. A team of officers then entered and made what Robertson termed “peaceful contact” with the man, and he agreed to surrender. He was then led out of the house, shirtless, to a waiting patrol car.
The man won’t be charged, Robertson said, but will be given a full mental evaluation. Police have been to the home several other times in recent weeks to handle disturbances he has caused, Robertson said.
Many neighbors said they hadn’t met the man, though his father is well known for the garden he has planted in the yard of a vacant house next door. One neighbor said he had encountered the young man for the first time three days ago, when the young man showed up at his house to say that the neighbor’s dog had escaped. He seemed unusually offended that the dog had been on his property, but also acted as if he wanted to stay and socialize, the neighbor said.
Several neighborhood residents, however, drew immediate parallels between the standoff and the cuts to mental health services in the region.
“It’s all Bobby Jindal’s fault!” called out Demetrius Dillon from the sidewalk as police vehicles rolled past her house. “Cutting our treatments, and closing our hospitals!”
Leon Price, a Bywater resident visiting his mother on Upperline, said that in addition to the cuts in mental services, police are too busy patrolling tourist areas to serve the city’s neighborhoods.
“It’s not just about the French Quarters,” Price said. “At some point, we’re citizens, we live here. They overlook that, and we get stuck with situations like this.”
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