LOWELL -- City police used less-than-lethal beanbag rounds fired from shotguns to stun a suicidal man who was holding a knife to his own throat inside a parked car at Chelmsford and Westford streets on Wednesday night.

In the moments while the man was stunned by beanbag rounds, officers broke a window in the car, reached inside and disarmed the man so Trinity EMT's could take him to a hospital for treatment of psychological issues, police said.

Officers were first sent to the area of Chelmsford and Westford streets about 9:20 p.m., when someone reported a suicidal man who was armed with a knife in the area.

Officers found that man in a parked car in front of 7-Eleven, and urgently requested backup from officers less-than-lethal weapons. Police closed the parking lot and gas pumps at 7-Eleven and ordered everyone inside the store to stay away from the windows.

Police said the suicidal man had the driver's side window of his car open, so two officers trained shotguns loaded with less-than-lethal beanbag rounds at him through the open window while they tried to talk him into dropping the knife. Other officers remained on the opposite side of the car.

Police said the man raised his knife and appeared to be ready to cut his own throat about 9:40 p.m., so two officers fired beanbags at his chest to stun him.

Simultaneously, other officers broke the car's passenger side window, reached in and grabbed the man's knife while he was stunned.


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Police then removed the man from the car and called in EMT's from Trinity Ambulance, who were waiting nearby, to take the man to a city hospital.

Police will not identify the man since he is not facing charges.

The incident is at least the second time in which beanbag rounds have been used to stun and disarm an armed and suicidal individual in Lowell.

Officers also used beanbag rounds to stun and disarm a suicidal man on Andover Street in March of 2010, though Lowell police did not deploy such rounds at that time.

In that incident, a sergeant who also serves with the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council used a beanbag round he had due to his work with the SWAT team to stun a man who had already resisted the use of a Taser and pepper spray.

In the months that followed, former police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee approved the use of beanbag rounds by Lowell police.

Follow Robert Mills on Twitter and Tout @Robert_Mill.