KENT, Wash. — The suspect involved in a standoff near Meridian Elementary School in Kent on Monday was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon.
The elementary school was closed Tuesday and Wednesday due to concerns over the the 26-year-old man in a nearby home who police say pointed a gun at a family member on Monday and started a standoff. Kent Police say the man was acting erratic and was saying concerning comments about the school. During the incident, the school was put on a lockdown for around five hours.
According to the Kent School District, school will be canceled again on Thursday and Friday. Classes are expected to resume Monday, Nov. 21. There will be an open house at the school so students can pick up meals. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A teacher told KING 5 that the man was on campus earlier that day and seemed to be having a mental health crisis. The teacher also said that all teachers, school administration, and students reacted in a haste, secure, and professional way during the lockdown.
The Kent Police Department (KPD) said officers were called just before 5:30 a.m. Monday to a home in the 25800 block of 140th Avenue Southeast, which is near some of the playfields on the Meridian Elementary School campus.
Officers were told the man, who lives in the home, pointed a .22 caliber rifle at a family member but did not make a threat. The rifle was secured with a chamber lock, police said. The family member told officers the suspect was "possibly in crisis."
Police said the family members left the home, leaving the suspect alone inside.
Valley SWAT and the Valley Hostage Negotiation Team were called to the home at about 10:30 a.m., five hours after the initial call. Negotiators spent several hours on the phone talking to the suspect and encouraged him to leave the home, but he refused, according to police.
During negotiations with the SWAT team, police said a family member re-entered the house and took the rifle from the suspect. The rifle the suspect had is in police custody.
The suspect never left the residence and the gun was never fired.
Officers said they did not have legal justification to enter the home for a community caretaking intervention and there was not enough probable cause to enter for arrest. Assistant Police Chief Jarod Casner said the department had several officers who had worked dozens of hours on the case, trying to get the man into custody.
"We want to get the male in custody for two primary reasons. First, once he is in custody we can engage resources to evaluate his mental competency and leverage treatment resources. Second, we also know that having the male in custody will alleviate the concerns that he poses a threat to the school or others," said Casner, when Kent Police were still trying to obtain a warrant.
KPD said they had five prior incidents with this suspect since 2016 and that this was the first incident in 2022.
Officers were patrolling the school campus and neighborhood from the time of the standoff until the man was in custody.
Parents said they felt that Kent Police and the Kent School District were not communicating enough and that parents were left concerned and confused.
The Kent School District did not respond to KING 5's requests for comment, but they had a statement on their website that said, in part:
"We appreciate everyone for their patience during this situation as we try to be proactive in our communications during these unusual circumstances," the letter stated.
One parent did tell KING 5 that although she wished the district communicated more, she appreciates how the school dealt with the situation and chose to keep the kids home from school.