PROVINCETOWN — A Provincetown man who was taken into custody after an eight-hour standoff with the Cape Cod SWAT team on Feb. 28 is currently being held at Bridgewater State Hospital.
Police reports state that Jonathan Bridges had a BB gun and made suicidal statements when a cavalcade of officers from across the Cape arrived to defuse the situation and help extract two roommates from Bridges’s residence.
Bridgewater is a medium-security facility for male defendants suffering from mental illness who are either incarcerated or facing criminal charges.
Bridges appeared in Orleans District Court on March 17, but his attorney, Henry Curtis of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, asked Judge Robert Welsh to postpone the hearing to April 7. Welsh agreed. Curtis told the court that his client was “emotional,” “hysterical,” and “unable to look [him] in the eye.”
At 9:16 a.m. on Feb. 28 police were dispatched to a West End home to respond to “a male armed with a gun, making suicidal statements.” Around noon, Cape Cod SWAT team vehicles raced up Route 6 toward Provincetown.
According to the police reports, when the SWAT team arrived, Bridges was still making suicidal statements. Recordings of a police scanner posted online by Hyannis News and later confirmed by two SWAT team members said that Bridges had a pellet or BB gun. The police report stated that he also had an axe and a machete.
According to the police reports, Bridges at one point was holding two roommates hostage, one with handcuffs and duct tape. Both roommates were able to escape by 2:30 p.m. with assistance from the SWAT team. The standoff with Bridges lasted almost six more hours before he was detained.
One of the roommates later told the Provincetown police that Bridges had ingested hallucinogenic drugs and intended to commit “suicide by cop,” according to the police report.
The next day, Bridges was charged with four felonies: two counts of kidnapping, one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and one count of firearm possession.
The March 17 court date was a “dangerousness” hearing, which determines whether a defendant poses a risk to public safety. That hearing was moved to April 7, and Judge Welsh granted Curtis’s request for a competency hearing, also to be held on April 7. If the competency hearing finds that Bridges is unable to stand trial, he will stay at Bridgewater until he is well enough to appear in court.
After his arrest on Feb. 28, Bridges was brought to Cape Cod Hospital for immediate evaluation and then sent back to the Provincetown Police Dept. for booking later that night. Bail was set at $50,000, and Bridges was transferred to the Barnstable County Jail in Bourne.
Bridges was at the jail for five days, after which he was transferred to Falmouth Hospital on March 6, according to court filings. On March 9, he was transferred from Falmouth Hospital to Bridgewater.
In 2016, then-Gov. Charlie Baker hired private contractor Wellpath to operate Bridgewater State, although state prison officers still monitor the grounds. A February 2022 report on Bridgewater issued by the Disability Law Center raised “serious health and safety concerns” about the facility, including the overuse of restraints and chemical sedation. The state Dept. of Corrections disputed the report’s claims.
During the abridged March 17 hearing, Judge Welsh said it was evident that “there is a serious mental health component” to the case.
Cape and Islands District Attorney Robert Galibois, a former defense attorney who was elected in November and took office in January, pledged during his campaign to work on creating special district court sessions for defendants suffering from mental illness so they could receive services and be funneled into treatment centers.
Galibois declined to comment on the Bridges case. In an interview with the Independent, he said that eligibility for a mental health court session would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis according to the severity of the charge — if the district were to implement such a process in the future. Someone facing indictable charges at the Superior Court level would not be a candidate for a special court session, he said.
“You’ve got that delicate balance of treating the mental health condition while maintaining public safety,” he said.
Galibois said that someone struggling with mental health issues and facing a misdemeanor assault and battery case, for example, could be a good candidate for a special session of this kind. “But if you’re charged with robbing someone with a firearm, that would typically go on to Superior Court because of the severity of the charges,” he said.
Galibois has opened a dialogue with trial court employees about launching a mental health court session in the district, he said, but those conversations are “in their infancy.”
He added, “We firmly believe that the community at large desires this type of court session.”