By Joe Johnson
An Athens-Clarke County police crisis intervention response unit reportedly stopped a man who had already shot himself from carrying out his plan to commit suicide.
The incident happened Friday morning when the 67-year-old Athens man called 911 to say he was going to kill himself in the area of Old Elberton and Pittard roads, and that an explanation could be found inside a bag in his van, according to a police incident report.
Upon arrival in the area, police began staging and formulating a plan of action, and officers who approached the van with ballistic shields found two black bags in the vehicle’s passenger seat that contained a suicide note and a large sum of money, according to the report.
"In the note (the man) claimed responsibility and stated (a woman) is innocent," according to the report, which did not indicate if the note elaborated about the woman and of what she was innocent.
Officers eventually located the man in a wooded path in the 500 block of Pittard Road, apparently injured and holding a gun.
Officers then called for additional resources, to include a member of the Crisis Intervention Response Unit, which pairs up specially-trained officers with mental health clinicians from Advantage Behavioral Health Systems who in tandem work to deescalate volatile and emotionally-charged situations.
According to police, members of the unit attempted to speak with the man through public addresses systems, but the terrain and distance made effective communication difficult.
At this point, members of ACCPD’s Strategic Response Team arrived with an armored rescue vehicle, which police said allowed officers to get close enough to have meaningful communication with the man.
“As a result, the male discarded his firearm allowing emergency personnel to approach him and render aid,” police said. “The male was injured from a self-inflicted gunshot wound but is expected to survive his injuries.
“Because of the collaborative efforts of various ACCPD work groups, the application of de-escalation tactics learned in ICAT (Integrated Communications and Tactics) training, and the utilization of agency resources (such as the Jerry B. NeSmith Behavioral Health Co-Responder Unit and armored rescue vehicle), the ACCPD was able to facilitate a safe resolution to a dangerous, high-stress situation,” police said in a prepared statement.