LEBANON -- A Lebanon police officer was arrested early Wednesday morning after he threatened to kill himself, involving a SWAT team in a standoff that lasted about five hours and forced neighbors to evacuate their homes, according to the Linn County Sheriff's Office.
Officer Brent Wade Richmond, 32, has been with the Lebanon Police Department for about eight years. He was placed on leave following the incident, said Lebanon Police Lt. Mike Schulte.
The incident began between 6:30 and 7 p.m. when Richmond threatened to kill himself at the Lebanon Fire Station at Oak and 12th Streets, said Linn County Undersheriff Tim Mueller.
Mueller, who said Richmond was armed with a pistol, provided this account of the incident:
After the initial threats, Richmond got in his car and drove to his house at 2717 Stoltz Hill Road. The fire department immediately notified the police of the situation, and once at his house, Richmond also called the Lebanon Police Department.
"He initiated a phone call to Lebanon, letting them know that he was in the house and was not coming out," Mueller said.
Police surrounded the residence until they were relieved by a SWAT team made up of deputies from Linn and Benton counties. Mueller estimated that residents of three nearby homes were evacuated.
Neighbor Sheila Reade said she and her husband somehow missed the phone call telling them to evacuate.
"We called 911, because we heard people outside yelling something about shooting," she said. "They told us other people had been evacuated."
The Reades were told to stay in their house with their lights off and keep quiet. They sat in the dark for three hours.
"It was really scary," she said. "We just kept the lights off and the doors locked."
Richmond was alone in his house during the standoff. Mueller said that Richmond didn't threaten to harm others, just himself.
"I don't think it was ever mentioned that he might go out in a blaze of glory and take a bunch of people with him," he said. "It was just his life that we were worried about."
The SWAT team negotiated with Mueller from about 7 p.m. until about midnight.
"They were on the phone continually with him throughout the evening," Mueller said. "They just kept the line of communication open."
Eventually, shortly after midnight, Richmond agreed to come out of the house unarmed with his hands up.
Mueller said the fact that Richmond is a police officer both complicated the situation and smoothed the way for his surrender.
"This is a small enough county that the police and different agencies all interact with each other," he said. "Realistically, that is what led to the peaceful resolution. Had it happened anywhere else, when he didn't know the people he was dealing with, it might have been different."
Schulte said Richmond's suicide threats had nothing to do with his job as a police officer.
"He was dealing with some difficult personal issues," Schulte said.
Reade said she's known Richmond since her family moved to the neighborhood in February 2000.
"He's been a great neighbor," she said. "We've just talked a few times over the fenceline."
She said she wondered if something was out of the ordinary at the Richmond residence when Richmond's wife's car sometimes disappeared from the house for several months at a time. When the Reades returned from vacation Monday, they noticed the Richmonds' house was up for sale.
Richmond was booked into the Linn County Jail at 2:10 a.m. Wednesday on charges of menacing and unlawful use of a weapon. He was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Linn County Circuit Court.
Brent Richmond is the son of Walt Richmond, Lebanon's police chief from 1988 to 1998.