DRACUT - Police took a 52-year-old man into custody for a mental health evaluation after he reportedly threatened suicide and turned on all the natural gas in his Lakeview Avenue home Thursday afternoon, drawing two SWAT teams and police from throughout the region to the area.
According to Dracut Police, the man stepped out onto his porch at 4:01 p.m.
Janice Tremblay said she's known the suspect, who is 52 years old, for 11 years. They've been living together as roommates since September on Lakeview Avenue. She said after a fight with his son, her friend began crying. Tremblay said she held the man to comfort him for 45 minutes. She said he then "snapped," and grabbed a knife and slashed himself across the throat.
"He's like a big brother to me," she said. "I wrestled the knife away from him and he cut his hand really bad.
"I'm very worried that he's dead already because he's trying to kill himself," she said through tears outside the home.
As Tremblay told her story to bystanders, NEMLEC SWAT suited up around her and headed toward the house. K9 dogs were on scene and some officers crouched behind their vehicles, guns drawn. Tremblay asked one of the officers about his weapon, and whether he might shoot her roomate.
"(My friend) yelled, 'I've got a gun," Tremblay said, adding to her knowledge, her roommate is not armed.
When police responded, they were told the man said he had a gun and wanted to die. They noticed "a strong odor of natural gas coming from the home," Dracut Deputy Police Chief David Chartrand said in a statement.
Police established a perimeter and evacuated the area, and National Grid workers were brought in to shut off the gas line.
The Northeast Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council's SWAT Team and the Middlesex Sheriff's SWAT team responded, as did officers from communities including Lowell, Billerica, Wilmington, Marblehead and Belmont.
The SWAT teams surrounded the gray two-story house and spoke to the man through a megaphone while crowds of neighbors clustered behind police cars and fire trucks.
"Negotiators repeatedly tried to establish a dialogue with the male in order for him to exit the home and receive medical attention for his self-inflicted injuries," Chartrand wrote.
Police said that when the man left his house, he did not follow directions being given by the officers. They used a stun gun on the man and were able to safely take him into custody. Police then searched the home and found no firearms.
No criminal charges are being filed at this time, Chartrand said. The man was taken into custody for an involuntary temporary committal for a mental health evaluation and transported to Lowell General Hospital.
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