South Austin SWAT standoff ends peacefully, suspect in custody

The Austin SWAT team used tear gas to coax a barricaded man out of an apartment Sunday.
                               
Although things ended peacefully, some residents from the South Austin apartment complex had to be removed from their homes for the night. It happened around 9 Sunday morning, Austin police responded to a South Austin apartment home for a disturbance call.

According to officers, a 66-year-old man was threatening to hurt other residents and himself.

Austin SWAT was called in to assist Austin police.

Elijah Seely said he was out walking his dog when he found himself in the middle of the situation.

"I saw some police over here so I tried to avoid it and go around," said Seely. "All of a sudden I noticed there was a sniper just sitting there covered in camouflage with a net over him sitting on the bench with his gun."

He said he’s lived in the neighborhood off Ben White Blvd. for a few years and has never experienced anything like this. “I was like ok what do I do? It was kind of scary. All of a sudden you see a sniper sitting there with an automatic rifle and you have no idea about what's going on and why he's pointing it at the building," said Seely.

The swat standoff lasted nearly six hours, during that time, dozens of residents had to be evacuated from their homes. Melissa Egan said she was helping her mother who lives in one of the apartments. She also said she was also a resident.

"People aren't safe in this building. They're not safe. that's our concern right now. Maybe screening the people, a little bit better when they come to live there," said Egan.

She said this isn't the first time she felt threatened by the man.

Police have identified the man however; they have not yet released the name. "He's actually threatened to kill me before so this is the second kind of incident we've had with him," said Egan.

As the day progressed authorities brought in two Cap Metro Express buses for residents to sit in to avoid the heat as they waited to be let back into their homes.

Meanwhile, SWAT used a robot to see where the man was hiding and tried several times to get the man to surrender. Austin Police William Costello said they had to take measures to get the man safely out and eventually had to deploy tear gas to get the man out of his apartment.

Costello said the man suffers from mental illness and has had run ins with the law prior to this incident.

The man was transported to a nearby hospital.

"He will be transported for a mental health evaluation," said Costello.

Egan said the windows in the apartment building are nailed down.

“So it’s hard to air out the tear gas,” said Egan.

Costillo said several residents will be housed for the night at another location until the apartment complex is fully aired out. He also said residents should be allowed back into their homes by Monday.

"What's most important is to get everybody back into the apartments safely," said Egan.

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