PITTSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — While behind the wheel, a Chapel Hill man told police he had intentions to engage in a “shootout with deputies.”
Chapel Hill police got in touch with Chatham County authorities as the driver continued southbound at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday. According to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, the man had also claimed to police that he had already harmed others.
When deputies intercepted the vehicle of the distressed man, they came to realize he was experiencing a mental health crisis.
The car was stopped near the Haw River bridge on U.S. 15-501. Traffic was blocked from the area as deputies first attempted dialogue with the man to deescalate the situation.
During the attempt, the man claimed he was armed with guns and knives and briefly drove away until being stopped a short distance later. The location where he stopped was a private property within feet of an occupied home, the sheriff’s office said.
Again, the deputies tried talking to the man, but those efforts “proved challenging.”
Due to an increased risk to public safety, deputies resorted to a tactical approach, using a beanbag round to subdue the man. A deputy fired the non-lethal round and successfully subdued the man. This allowed other deputies to move in and deploy a taser, incapacitating him.
Through further investigation, it was determined that the man had not harmed anyone before the chase began, as he had claimed.
The sheriff’s office said the man was transported back to Chapel Hill following the “potentially dangerous” incident where he was placed under emergency involuntary commitment for mental health evaluation and treatment.
The de-escalation on Wednesday was also aided by the Pittsboro Police Department and the North Carolina Highway Patrol, whose support helped ensure that no injuries were sustain by both the public and law enforcement personnel.
Following the successful de-escalation, Sheriff Mike Roberson emphasized the importance of these practices and protocols in situations of mental health crisis.
“Our primary goal is the safety and well-being of our community,” he said. “The successful resolution of this incident reflects the dedication and training of our deputies and reinforces our commitment to maintaining a secure environment for everyone we serve.”