Police peacefully ended a protracted standoff with an armed man in a room at the W Hotel, the most recent instance of what the city’s top cop says are first responders dealing with an increase of emotionally disturbed people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Police Commissioner William Gross told reporters shortly before noon that they’d ended an 18-hour standoff with a man who’d smashed a window on the 14th floor of the downtown hotel and was threatening to jump.
Police had responded to a call from the family of the man — who police didn’t identify, and is now being treated at a local hospital — at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Police learned that the man might have a machete — one eventually was found in the room, Gross said — so the SWAT team and negotiators were called in to manage the situation as police attempted to talk him down.
“It was a very long night of negotiating with this individual,” Gross said, adding that the hotel was locked down throughout the night. Gross thanked the hotel staff plus the city’s fire and EMS workers. “We just took our time and de-escalated the situation.”
Eventually, around 11 a.m. Friday, the SWAT team “made entry” into the room and the man “surrendered” to them without further incident.
“We didn’t want him to harm himself or others,” Gross said, saying the special-operations unit busted in to make sure the man didn’t jump.
Gross said they’ve have seen “an uptick” in incidents like this — an “emotionally disturbed person,” in first-responder parlance, often possibly suicidal — as the pandemic has dragged on.
“Since COVID-19, we’ve had several of these incidents,” Gross said. He gave a couple of examples, including one knife-wielding man trying to get cops to kill him, and another person who threatened to them himself off the 4th Street Bridge in South Boston.
“I’d like to thank everyone who supports us when we encounter these individuals,” Gross said.