Police disarm suicidal woman | AspenTimes.com

Police disarm suicidal woman

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A distraught Carbondale woman who was firing a gun in the West End Tuesday was disarmed by an Aspen police officer who fired a beanbag into her back.

No one was injured in the incident, according to Police Chief Loren Ryerson. The woman, whose name was not released, was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where she remained at about 9:30 p.m. yesterday. She is believed to be 41 years old.

“Charges may be pending,” Ryerson said.

Police were called to the scene at about 7 p.m. by the woman’s therapist, a Meadows Road resident who told police the woman was suicidal and had already fired two shots from a handgun.

She was seated in a car when officers arrived and then went into the garage of the home at 655 Meadows Road, according to Ryerson. Police surrounded the home and began to talk with her when she fired a shot into the trees.

She then went into the back yard and, at one point, put the gun down, said Ryerson, who was not at the scene. She then picked the weapon back up, pointed the barrel at her head and said “kill me, kill me, kill me,” Ryerson related.

An Aspen officer, positioned about 30 feet behind her, fired with a beanbag gun that police typically use to chase away bears. She fell to the ground and dropped the gun, Ryerson said.

The beanbag delivers a significant punch, he said. “It’s quite a shock. Many people feel as though they’ve been shot.

“According to the officers on the scene, it was very close to them having to use lethal force,” Ryerson said.

It was the first time the beanbag gun had been used in Aspen on a person, the police chief said. Officers are trained to use it as part of their arsenal, he added.

He did not release the name of the officer who fired the weapon.

“I’m very proud of the people who responded and the way they reacted,” Ryerson said. “I’m very thankful that it turned out the way it did, without anyone being seriously hurt.

“These are very tense and, quite frankly, scary things to confront.”

“At first blush, this looks like an example of superb police work,” said City Manager Steve Barwick.

In all, 10 officers responded to the incident, four Aspen Police officers and four Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputies, along with one Basalt officer and one Snowmass Village officer who happened to be in the area.

The incident lasted about 35 minutes.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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