Tulsa Police standoff ends peacefully

Monday, August 19th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa's Special Operations team handled its 16th call-out of the year Monday.

25% of those calls are people who threaten to kill themselves. That was also the case Monday. It took nearly eight hours, but officers ended it without anyone getting hurt. The incident happened near 4319 E 6th Street. News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains what happened.

When the Special Operations Team gets a call-out, team members come loaded for bear. The biggest guns, the best equipment, even a tank. And, while it all looks intimidating, the goal is to handle the job with nothing more than a telephone. Tulsa Police SOT officer Sgt Mike Eckert, "We have lots of extra equipment that through the media, people get to see. But, it's a whole different deal to see it on your street. But, it's all preventative, we don't want to have to use any of it."

Police say 56-year-old David Saunders was taking a half-dozen psychiatric medicines, had been up all night drinking and fighting with his wife. He told negotiators he had a 9-millimeter and an AK-47 and nothing would make him come out. After hours of talking to him, they shot in nine canisters of OC gas. "He could be heard coughing, but he still wouldn't obey our commands to come out of the house."

So, a team of six officers had to make a blind entry into the house, a dangerous assignment that's a last alternative. "Scary is an understatement. He's probably lived there for years and knows all the hide-holes and knows where to hide gun. We have no idea that's inside."

David Massingill lives across the street and watched it all from inside his house, while listening to it on police scanners. "You don't see this everyday, which is good. I'm just glad they did a really good job." This one goes in the books as a success. Saunders lives another day to get the help he needs and these officers walk away unharmed, so they can put their lives on the line the next time their on-call pager calls in the middle of the night.

Saunders was treated for breathing in the tear gas; he'll be evaluated for mental problems. This is the second time he was involved in a standoff with police.