At a time when many local police departments are focused on de-escalation tactics and training, Oceanside police managed to use that training to disarm a man carrying multiple weapons and under mental distress using only their words. .
On Friday morning, Oceanside police received a complaint about a man armed with three knives, a machete and a hatchet who was ranting in the halls of Extra Space Storage near the intersection of Oceanside Boulevard and Beverly Glen Drive.
After the incident was over, Det. Mark Theriot, the primary negotiator explained how they disarmed the man.
“Anytime somebody is armed with multiple knives, multiple weapons, the threat level is extremely high," Theriot said.
Around 9 a.m., Theriot began the long and sometimes arduous process of safe surrender.
“It was difficult to decipher at times exactly who he was yelling at, whether it was me or these other voices," Theriot said. "Sometimes that takes a lot of patience as well."
Theriot said the man was experiencing a manic episode, pacing back and forth, yelling and hearing voices in his head. Just as disturbing was his purpose for being at the storage facility: He told police his daughter was trapped in one of the units and was yelling for help.
Police checked, though, and his daughter was fine and nowhere near Extra Space Storage. Police said the man actually rents a space there, though, which is how he got inside in the first place.
“He was not responding very well to communication, to any sort of orders," Theriot said. "He believed ... he was there to help someone, and, in a sense, we were in the way of that.“
Theriot said the man, who spoke to him from opposite ends of a long hallway for four hours, didn’t verbally threaten police or threaten suicide. In fact, he periodically dropped his weapons, only to pick them back up again.
The hours-long negotiations ties up a lot of law-enforcement resources for a long period — at what point does that become counterproductive?
"It’s difficult to gauge — that's something the supervisors and commanders running the scene have to constantly think about," Theriot said.
Just before 1 p.m., the man laid down his weapons, went to his knees and surrendered.
“We didn’t use force against someone going through a mental-health crisis," Theriot said. "Any day of the week, I would consider that a success."
After the incident, the man was taken to the Psychiatric Hospital of San Diego County for treatment.