Clint Wright, believed to be in his early forties and a resident of Smyrna, Tennessee, begged sheriff's deputies to shoot him and repeatedly turned a pistol on himself while law enforcement officials tried to persuade him to put down the weapon and exit a vehicle near Toney Rd., in Lafayette, last Tuesday, according to Macon County Sheriff Mark Gammons.
Sheriff Gammons, Captain Danny Gross, and Detectives Bill Cothron and Bennie Hudgens joined Deputies Michael Veatch and Larry West, who were already on the scene, and attempted to negotiate with Wright for about an hour before the sheriff called the Lafayette Police Department for Strategic Operations Response Team assistance.
“He kept saying he wanted us to shoot him; and he put the gun to his own head several times,” Sheriff Gammons explained.
Using ballistic shields and wearing Kevlar helmets and body armor, officers were able to move close enough to launch a capsule containing OC pepper spray, in a gel medium, through the car's rear glass, preventing the subject from harming himself or anyone else, according to LPD Strategic Operations Response Team Leader Lieutenant Matt Looper.
After one OC capsule was deployed, Wright dropped the weapon and surrendered. The pistol Wright had wielded was found to be jammed, the sheriff reported.
Strategic Operations Response Team members are trained in the tactical use of special equipment and techniques for handling dangerous situations, according to Lieutenant Looper.
Officers are trained to use the least amount of force needed to control dangerous situations; and non-lethal alternatives to deadly force reportedly include military tear gas and OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) pepper spray.
“We were notified that an unknown white male with a hand gun was failing to surrender. Our stress level was high going in, because we didn't know what to expect,” Lieutenant Looper recalled.
Deputies Veatch and West responded when a Toney Road property owner called the Macon County Sheriff's Department at approximately 3:30 Tuesday afternoon and reported an unresponsive man in a vehicle parked on the property.
The deputies reportedly called for back-up when they awakened the unresponsive man and discovered he was armed.
“When we arrived, the Sheriff's Department had a good perimeter and had been able to keep him calm. They filled us in and allowed us to come in and finish the job. All the training fell together and it worked out,” LPD Lieutenant Looper explained.
“We're extremely thankful everything turned out good and no one was physically hurt,” LPD Chief Jerry Dallas said.
“We're fortunate to work for departments that have a close relationship and work together,” Lieutenant Looper added.
Clint Wright was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center by the Air Evac helicopter when Macon County EMS personnel determined the man's incoherence could be the result of consuming an unknown quantity of pills, Sheriff Gammons reported.
“Wright is still in Vanderbilt and no charges have been filed at this time” the sheriff concluded.