Five law enforcement agencies joined forces Friday after a Hulbert man attempted to torch his home and fired shots at innocent bystanders. The standoff lasted more than five hours. The sheriff's office said it all started after the suspect had a mental breakdown.
It was an intense scene as tactical law enforcement teams, covered in camouflage and body armor, approached a camper with guns. Inside that camper was a man who investigators later identified as Michael Earp.
Jason Chennault, a Cherokee County Undersheriff, said, "He had some type of mental episode this morning. He just decided he was going to burn the house down and shoot anyone that came to put the fire out."
The Cherokee County Undersheriff said once deputies arrived, they had a hard time making contact with Earp. They didn't know how many homes were on the property, or how close neighbors were, so they used a helicopter to get a bird's eye view.
Homeowners nearby had to evacuate.
"We didn't know what he was up to. We knew he had a high powered rifle from what the family said. He wasn't in any kind of condition to be provoked," said Chennault.
We spoke with the suspect's family off camera. They said they didn't know what caused Earp to snap, but the undersheriff said relatives told him something different.
"We learned from his family he had lost his job yesterday and had been evicted from the place that he lived on his family's property," said Chennault.
It took deputies, Tahlequah Police, the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to talk Earp out of the camper.
He is being held on complaints of arson and firing a weapon in a dangerous manner. During this time, there were reports of multiple schools on lockdown.
Chennault said people inside those schools were never in any harm because this was an isolated situation.