Sometimes it’s a fine line between what’s illegal or just ill-advised. That appears to be the case faced by Everett Police this weekend after a man with a knife got onto the roof of the “C” building at the Family Tree apartments on 19th Avenue SE near the south Everett Costco and refused to come down. Police were first called out to a report of a man with a knife on the roof about 3:00pm Saturday afternoon. Everett police officers and a fire crew raced to the scene. The fire crew stood by as police talked with the man trying to determine why he was on the roof and just what he wanted. Soon residents of the apartments gathered around and began taking pictures with their cell phones. Kids pulled up milk crates and sat watching like it was some kind of reality TV show. The man continued talking with police from his perch about 40 feet or so above the ground sometimes becoming agitated and waving his arms around but then calming back down and just sitting on the roof, the knife either in his hand or within reach. He had what appeared to be some blood on his hands and the front of his pants but didn’t appear to still be bleeding and he was not cutting himself.
As the afternoon wore on patrol supervisors called in a negotiator and chaplain. Negotiations continued for hours but the man never made specific threats or actions to harm himself or others. After Saturday afternoon turned to evening and evening into night, the man went to sleep on the roof, police negotiators left and patrol officers monitored the situation. As of 9am Sunday morning the man was asleep on the peaked roof of the “C” building. By 11:00am he was back up and moving up and down the roof and at 2:00pm Sunday afternoon there were another two people up on the roof with him. As of 6:30 Sunday night he was still up there. At 9:00pm he remained on the roof and an aid crew was called to check on a juvenile in a unit in a nearby building who reportedly was having panic attacks related to the man on the roof. At 10:30pm three officers were at the apartment complex talking with the man and finally early Monday morning the man was taken to an Everett Hospital for an evaluation.
In a telephone interview Sunday morning Everett Police Sgt. Ryan Dalberg told My Everett News there was little police could do. “The man was not posing an imminent threat to harm himself or others,” said Dalberg. “It would be more dangerous to have officers go onto the roof and try to take him off.” Police monitored the situation and addressed several calls from residents throughout the time the man was on the roof.
Again the man was on the roof of private property where he lived. He wasn’t on a bridge or overpass or other public area, he didn’t make overt threats or actions to harm himself or others. The Everett police officers were patient, talking with the man and letting him vent. They protected the scene and kept people out of harm’s way. They didn’t over-react or under-react. Sometimes it truly is a fine line between what’s illegal or just ill-advised.