PROVINCETOWN — Around midday on Tuesday, Feb. 28, Outer Cape residents began noticing increased police traffic on Route 6 as departments from as far away as Bourne responded to an emergency in Provincetown’s West End.
At 12:10 p.m., the town’s Twitter account and then its email alert system notified residents that “an active barricade situation” was underway near the Coast Guard Station on Commercial Street. A man had apparently barricaded himself inside his home.
The town’s alerts did not mention firearms or other reasons the situation was dangerous except to say that officers were attempting to “communicate with the individual and peacefully de-escalate the situation.”
The alert asked residents to avoid the area.
Nearly seven hours later, the situation was resolved peacefully when the man was taken into custody at 6:50 p.m. and brought to a hospital for evaluation. But for most of the rainy day, scores of law enforcement personnel were at an impasse with the man.
According to recordings of a police scanner published by Hyannis News, the man had repeatedly expressed suicidal ideation and was in possession of a weapon.
The scanner recording also indicated that another person was present in the house — apparently the man’s roommate — and had been threatened with the weapon.
“We’re working on a plan to get the other innocent roommate out of there,” an officer on the police scanner said. According to that officer, the only interior escape route was blocked by the man with the weapon.
By 12:45 p.m., the police had blocked off a stretch of Commercial Street from Pleasant Street to Mechanic Street as well as all the cross streets leading to that area from Bradford Street. Police vehicles from Yarmouth, Mashpee, Bourne, Barnstable, Truro, Wellfleet, and Provincetown were parked all around the area.
Wellfleet Police Sgt. Paul Clark, who was stationed at the corner of Bradford and Franklin streets, called it a “very full response” and said that at least 30 Cape Cod SWAT team members were at the scene in full protective gear.
At 1:10 p.m., SWAT team officers were seen bringing a bullhorn to the area from a truck parked near the intersection of Tremont and School streets. The dialogue between the police and the man they were trying to becalm could not be heard from that distance, however.
At 3:40 p.m., the town released a statement saying that the area was still closed to the public but reassuring residents that “this is not a hostage situation at this time, and there is currently no active threat to the broader community.
“Police and negotiators continue to work toward a peaceful resolution with a male who has barricaded himself inside his residence,” that alert said. By that time, the roommate had apparently been safely evacuated.
At 7:30, the town sent out a third alert. The troubled man had been “safely taken into custody” around 6:50 p.m. and was on the way to the hospital.
After the situation was resolved, the Independent contacted state Sen. Julian Cyr, who has advocated for mental health care reform.
“I want to express my heartfelt compassion and understanding for the individual in this distress,” Cyr said, “and my gratitude to the public safety professionals who responded to this challenging situation.
“For anyone who has needed urgent psychiatric care or is a loved one of someone who has needed that care here on the Outer Cape, you know how challenging it is to get access to care,” Cyr said. “This is real for people. If you look at any indicator, or you just talk to your neighbors, you’ll realize that we’ve got a real crisis. The need for mental health care is enormous, and it’s growing. This trying episode is a reminder of that.”