Marysville police use robot to end standoff

MARYSVILLE — Police on Saturday used a breadbox-sized robot to persuade an armed assault suspect to surrender.

Around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, the Marysville police SWAT team surrounded an apartment where a man was hiding after reportedly threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend.

A neighbor at the Westwood Crossing Apartments on Cedar Avenue had told 911 dispatchers that he heard a woman screaming inside her apartment and saw her run outside.

Police knew the suspect, 26, of Marysville, was armed, Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux said Monday. The suspect initially refused to comply with police orders given over loudspeakers.

The woman, 19, told police she had gotten home from work about 3:30 a.m. She and the man got into an argument soon afterward.

She tried to run outside, but the man blocked her way, she told police.

The man allegedly pointed a semiautomatic handgun at her and himself and threatened to kill them both, court papers show. The man then grabbed the woman’s cell phone, and she was able to run outside.

When police arrived, they removed people from surrounding apartments as a safety precaution, Lamoureux said.

“We didn’t really know what our situation was going to lead us to,” he said.

Police knocked on the apartment door and called the man on cell phones inside the apartment, but he didn’t answer, court papers show.

Marysville police knew the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office had been testing a robot designed for high-risk environments, Lamoureux said.

The robot was brought to the scene and sent into the apartment. It was directed to the man, who was sitting on a bed.

Police were able communicate with the suspect via the robot’s camera and two-way radio system, Lamoureux said.

“It was invaluable,” he said. “It allowed a piece of equipment to go into a very unstable situation (without) having to send in human resources.”

The man surrendered about 11 a.m. Police found two loaded pistols under the bed inside the apartment, court papers show. Both had a round in the chamber, and one was cocked.

The man reportedly admitted taking the woman’s cell phone and not letting her leave, police wrote in court papers. The man denied threatening the woman with the gun or pointing it at himself.

He remained booked Monday at Snohomish County Jail for investigation of second-degree assault.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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