Suicide attempt near Downtown Berkeley safely resolved by police

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Berkeley Police Department safely resolved a suicide attempt near Bancroft Way and Roosevelt Avenue on Wednesday evening.

According to BPD spokesperson Officer Byron White, BPD received a complaint about 6:34 p.m. of someone possibly using drugs inside a portable bathroom near Bancroft Way and Roosevelt Avenue. When officers arrived on the scene, they discovered a man in crisis. The man, in his 50s, was allegedly armed with a knife, threatening suicide.

“Officers repeatedly told him to put down the knife — he refused to do it. He was threatening suicide by cop,” White alleged. “We had crisis intervention team trained officers there … trying to de-escalate him. We spoke to him for some 45 minutes.”

Suicide by police is a suicide tactic in which an individual deliberately behaves in a threatening manner to prompt a lethal response from law enforcement officers.

According to a BPD Nixle alert issued about 8:16 p.m., officers had the individual contained on the 2200 block of Roosevelt Street. White said, however, that the man “seemed to get more agitated” as the officers engaged in negotiations with him. White alleged that the man began to charge at the officers, so officers fired several rounds of less-lethal munitions at him, causing him to drop the knife.

The officers were able to take the man into custody, and he was transported to a local hospital for a medical evaluation.

White described the munitions as small plastic and rubber pullets that cause contusions, such as bruises, when fired. The man suffered minor injuries from the munitions.

“It’s a difficult situation, and we’re glad we were able to resolve it,” White said. “I think the police department is fortunate that we do have some less-lethal options in situations like this. … The more less-lethal options, the better.”

BPD issued several alerts about the incident over the course of the evening. About 7 p.m., BPD advised community members to avoid the area of Bancroft Way and Roosevelt Avenue “for the next several hours” because of police activity at 1717 Bancroft Way. BPD tweeted about 7:36 p.m. that the situation was “safely resolved,” adding that the shelter in place order has been rescinded.

Many 24-hour hotlines exist for those in the middle of a crisis. Alameda County’s can be reached at 800-309-2131.

Check back for updates.

Chantelle Lee is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.