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Suicidal Man With Shotgun Found in Cornfield, Police Say

Manhunt near Turtleback Road ended peacefully Thursday night.

A manhunt for a suicidal individual ended peacefully Thursday night after officers successfully negotiated with the man in a cornfield, police said.

Local police, along with a helicopter from the New Jersey State Troopers after a family friend reported the incident to police at 8:45 p.m., Lt. Doug Compton said.

Police were told the man was suicidal and carrying a shotgun, and was in the area of Turtleback Road, Compton said.

Police found the man–whose name is not being released by authorities–in his car in a cornfield, Compton said. Sgt. Chris Bratus, Sgt. Earl Barnes, and Officer Michael Hade approached the man and began negotiating with him, Compton said.

The negotiation with the man, who was indeed carrying a shotgun, lasted for approximately an hour, Compton said, and ended successfully.

The man was removed from the vehicle and transported to a local hospital for a medical evaluation, Compton said. He said no one was injured in the incident, which ended at 11:10 p.m.

No charges were filed.

For questions about this post, please email jason.koestenblatt@patch.com.

PD73 August 17, 2012 at 03:24 PM
So good to hear it ended well.
12345678 August 17, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Prayers to this poor family. Thank you to the "authorities" for having the good sense not to release his name. Happy it ended well too!
Lisa Foster-Clarke August 17, 2012 at 11:10 PM
First let me say that I am very glad that this individual was found unharmed and is receiving the care he needs. However, I have concerns with the way information about this event was released. My property backs up to the fields where this individual was found. I called the WT police last night when the helicopter was hovering over my house and squad cars were searching the lane at the back of my property, to ask if I needed to be concerned. I was told "no need for concern, we are just conducting a search for a missing person". I was not told the missing person was armed or distraught. My husband and I were tempted to offer assistance in the search thinking maybe it was a young child who just moved in next door. This situation was indeed a safety concern for my family! When I called WTPD again this morning to ask if they had found the person of interest and ask for assurance that my property was secure, so that I could decide whether to allow my son out to play, I was asked to leave a message and I would receive a call back from an officer with the information I was seeking. That return call never came. It was not until the Patch follow-up article was released, that I had the information I needed to ensure my families safety. For all I knew, someone could have been hiding or seeking shelter in my barn. I am certainly entitled to adequate information about such activity, to allow me to make informed decisions regarding our activities. Am I missing something here?
Claire August 17, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Lisa, you have every right to be concerned. The police should have knocked on the doors of the people in the immediate area and told them to stay inside if someone was armed and emotionally distraught. But I hope you call the WT police to let them know your concerns, otherwise, just posting here, your concerns may go unheard.
DS August 18, 2012 at 12:19 AM
I also live in the area, and am concerned about the severity of this incident. Calling it a "missing person" was misleading to say the least. Luckily it had a happy ending. I agree with the decision not to release his name, and hope that he gets the help that he needs.I am however worried that we will not be informed when he is released, and what threat he may continue to be to himself and others.
Jerry Gordon August 18, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Lisa, you're not missing anything here.The WT police have themselves walled up from the public.You should have been told to lock your doors and stay inside. I'm very concerned that things could have gotten out of hand.in this situation.Thank fully no one got hurt. I'm not surprised you didn't receive a return call either. I've called the WPTD a few times and the dispatch always sounds annoyed like you were interrupting his coffee and doughnuts break. You would think the cops would be more user friendly considering the enormous salaries they receive. Call the Mayor, and let him know your concerns! The WTPD work for YOU!
Blue Heron August 18, 2012 at 01:16 AM
I too live right near where this incident occured and was told the same thing when I called the police that they were just looking for a missing person. This was of course after the search helicopter had flown over my home several times and scanned all around my property with the searchlight making my entire family worry. They should have warned those of us who live in the area to lock our doors and not let anyone outside and they should have informed all of us when the situation was resolved. This could have been a dangerous situation! What if the man started running around the area with his loaded gun? Being suicidal he might have shot and killed anyone in his path. Residents in the area had every right to be informed of what was going on so they could make sure they were safe.
Lisa Foster-Clarke August 18, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Yes I believe a few phone calls are in order to ensure stepped up responsiveness and communication when it comes to security issues. This could have gone badly very quickly, and all residents nearby should have been instructed to stay inside until the area was secured! And at the VERY least, be given adequate responses when we reach out to them. I didn't ask for names or details, but "no need for concern, it's a missing person search" is a far cry from "there is an armed, agitated individual missing in your area".
Nothing to see here August 18, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Wow- you all just realized that Washington townships giant police force is ineffective in the face of any real threat or problem ? That's funny.
Denise Hollerbach August 18, 2012 at 04:06 AM
I would not agree with that statement at all. I personally watched them work with great restraint, when a young man, who was obviously on drugs, ran away from them and was attacking them. I have never been so impressed with any police force as that early evening in March 2012.
treacy August 18, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Totally agree with Jerry...walled up police department. It's like trying to see the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz if you need some person-to-person contact with anyone in the police department bldg. Have respect for the job they do, but by being "walled up" they are sending the wrong message to the public.
Jim Harmon August 18, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Thank you Sgt. Bratus, Sgt. Barnes and Officer Hade for handling a very dangerous situation with professionalism and skill. None of us who were not there with you in that cornfield can understand what it is like to confront a suicidal and armed man in the dark, to put yourself at great risk and to negotiate and react intelligently as an unstable individual acts out moment to moment for an hour. Thanks to your skill and training the incident ended with no injury or loss of life. You are to be commended for your work and your dedication to serving our community. You and your fellow officers are very much appreciated.
Kevin August 18, 2012 at 02:36 PM
They could have easily utilized the reverse 911 system to notify the public. If you are unsatisfied with the dispatchers who advised you then you need to be upset at the county. The WTPD no longer handle the dispatch. That dispatcher is located in Parsippany. Voice your concerns.
Lisa Foster-Clarke August 18, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I too thank and commend the officers who assisted this man. My input here is not intended as any blanket criticism of the WTPD. My issue is in the communication offered to those of us in the direct area of this incident, who needed more accurate information in order to maintain our safety. I did not know that our dispatching was done on a county level. I obviously need to follow-up with them. Thank you Kevin.
Gadfly August 19, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Hats off to the WTPD. It sounds like they handled this situation with compassion and professionalism.
Nolan August 19, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Thanks to the Mayor and Committee, you no longer call the WTPD, you call MC Dispatch. The Mayor and Committee promised cost cuts (show me where) and better service (NOT). Don't assume that the police get any better information from dispatch than you. Next time you see someone from the WT Police, ask them about dispatch, and not getting all the necessary information.
Jack Mahoffer August 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM
You have NO idea how many " real problems " are handled on a regular basis by the WTPD. Very few make the local rags ( this site excluded , of course ). You and Jerry Gorgon should do a ride along on a weekend, and experience how fun it is to deal with the plastic JO's that inhabit this town. To deal with their kids that they failed to parent. To deal with real life problems when people call for help, yet get scoffed at all the time by those who sit comfortably behind a computer blogging. As far as communications, YOUR town council decided to get rid of an efficient and cost friendly service in order to try to save money. The kicker is there is no savings at all, and " customer service " has suffered as a result.
Pai Mei August 19, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I agree with Jack, the WTPD does a great job when everyone is looking as well as when everyone is not, which is the majority of the time. I would love to see "Nothing to see here," and Jerry Gordon do a night time/weekend ride along, however, we all know they will not, they lack the intestinal fortitude. You tasting my Sake Kimosabe? Rock and rolla Ayotollah.
Nodrog August 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Ineffective? They brought my distraught friend out of that cornfield safe and alive! I'd hardly call that ineffective!!!
Jason Koestenblatt (Editor) August 23, 2012 at 08:12 PM
For those unaware, we've written a follow up article to this incident, and readers are weighing in with their thoughts. That story can be seen here: http://patch.com/A-xkkN
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