Suicidal man in custody after armed standoff

Man called a KOIN 6 News photojournalist on Saturday as incident unfolded

Marion County deputies and other agencies successfully negotiated a standoff with an armed, suicidal man near the Wheatland Ferry, April 11, 2015 (Marion County Sheriff's Office)
Marion County deputies and other agencies successfully negotiated a standoff with an armed, suicidal man near the Wheatland Ferry, April 11, 2015 (Marion County Sheriff's Office)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — A standoff between a suicidal man and Marion County law enforcement ended peacefully at a park near the Wheatland Ferry.

Earlier Saturday, Marion County deputies had contact with the 34-year-old man in the 5800 block of Silverton Road NE but decided he was not a danger to the public. Later, that man left his home and began firing shots, authorities said.

While he was sitting in his BMW, the man picked up his phone and called KOIN 6 News photojournalist Dean Barron, whom he’d met a few weeks ago.

“One moment he is concerned for his life, the next moment (it was) ‘I don’t care,'” Barron said.

“He said, ‘This is Robert Owens. I’m in my car and they have their weapons drawn,” KOIN 6 News photojournalist Dean Barron said. “I said, you don’t want to be hurt. You are not going to die today. You just remain calm. All they want to do is talk to you and solve this peacefully.”

While he was on the phone with Barron, he was given contact information for mental health help. At the same time, police were alerted.

Using his cell phone coordinates, deputies were able to track the man to a park near Wheatland Ferry.

Instead, Owens, a double amputee, turned and drove down the road, where officers deflated his tires using spike strips. That sent him into a ditch along the side of Matheny Road NE.

Owens was removed from the vehicle by SWAT members. He was taken to Salem Hospital for evaluation.

“I have a great deal of respect for 911 operators who have to talk to people in stressful situations,” Barron said. “I said, this is the time to slow everything down, remain calm.”

The Marion County SWAT unit, the Salem and Keizer police departments and the Oregon State Police all responded to this incident

The area around the park remained closed while Oregon State Police checked the car for any explosive devices.

Owens may face criminal charges at a later time, officials said.

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