Peaceful ending to police standoff

EVART — An Evart man is in custody after a four-hour standoff with police ended peacefully on Monday.

According to Police Chief Kendra Backing, Evart police were first called to the scene at approximately 11 a.m. for a standby situation.

The man’s wife requested for police to help her remove property from the home where she and the suspect resided.

Backing said the couple was separating and the wife had asked for help from police as she and some relatives prepared to move some property out of the home.

"She was able to remove her items from the home without any incident," Backing said. "After the wife was gone the man then called his pastor for help."

The man's identity is being withheld pending a mental health evaluation and his arraignment.

The situation escalated at approximately 3 p.m. during the pastor’s visit. It was then the man retrieved a gun and began making suicidal threats.

“At one point, the man put the gun to his head while the pastor was there,” Backing said. “The pastor called 9-1-1 and told authorities he was in possession of a stolen gun.”

A 9-1-1 dispatcher could hear the pastor ask the man, believed to be in his 20s, to put the gun down before the call was dropped, Backing said.

The dispatcher then contacted the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department, Michigan State Police and the Evart Police Department.

Backing described this as an “active barricaded gunman situation,” and not a hostage situation.

“The pastor went there on his own free will to help the man,” Backing said. “He could have left any time.”

The MSP hostage negotiator was able to convince the man to exit his home and turn himself over to police custody.

“The man was clearly upset about the events with his wife earlier that day,” Backing said. “The pastor did what he could do to diffuse the situation.”

The police had set a perimeter along a number of blocks near the Evart home, where the incident occurred.

Several streets on the south end of Evart were closed and some residents were evacuated until police resolved the matter.

Backing said that no shots were fired as a result of the incident and no body was hurt.

“It is fortunate the situation ended peacefully,” Backing said.

Alcohol was not a factor, but it is unknown if the man was under the influence of any other substances, Backing said.

“I think he was distressed, because he did call his pastor for help,” Backing said. “We do know he wasn’t under the influence of alcohol, and his threats appeared to be directed toward himself.”