Standoff ends peacefully

Published 12:46 am Thursday, June 16, 2011

A member of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, in body armor, speaks with (from left) Washington police Chief Mick Reed, an SBI agent and police Lt. William Chrismon about the situation Wednesday afternoon. (WDN Photo/Sara Cowell)

Daily News Staff

A daylong standoff between a man and law-enforcement officers ended peacefully late Wednesday afternoon.

Law-enforcement officials took the once-armed man into custody in the 300 block of Washington’s East 12th Street shortly before 5 p.m.

The standoff began around 8 a.m. Wednesday and ended in the afternoon just before rush hour.

The man, identified at the scene as Gary Gautier, was in a house on East 12th Street when he placed a call to the Washington Police Department’s telecommunications center early Wednesday morning, said police Chief Mick Reed.

The caller “expressed some displeasure over some issues regarding his environment,” Reed said, adding these issues did not involve law enforcement or the City of Washington.

Reed didn’t describe the issues voiced by the caller.

The chief said Gautier fired at least two rounds that apparently didn’t harm anyone. It was unclear at what or whom the rounds were fired.

Asked what sort of weapon Gautier allegedly discharged, Reed replied, “He actually had quite a few weapons.”
The chief declined to describe the weapons, citing an ongoing investigation.

“There were a couple of times where we felt it could have been an issue,” he said, responding to a media question about law-enforcement officials’ safety.

The chief didn’t list any charges against Gautier.

“Our goal is to get some assistance for him,” he said.

There was no evacuation of the immediate neighborhood, Reed related.

Police went door to door on both sides of East 12th Street, asking people to stay indoors, he said.

“We asked everybody to stay inside and be patient with us,” he said.

Police also blocked off the street and turned back a few residents who tried to walk or drive through.

By early afternoon, Washington Electric Utilities had cut power to the neighborhood as law-enforcement officials maneuvered to get Gautier out of the house.

At several points during the late morning and early afternoon, people could be seen leaving the street in vehicles or on foot.

Police escorted some residents who chose to evacuate out of the vicinity.

Among those escorted out of the area was Renee Blackburn, who lives on East 12th Street.

Blackburn said she was at home with her two small children Wednesday morning when a law-enforcement officer knocked on her back door.

“There was an officer there with a bulletproof vest and binoculars,” she said.

Blackburn evacuated her house. She sought refuge in the nearby parking lot of Tayloe’s Hospital Pharmacy on 15th Street.

Asked whether she knew Gautier, Blackburn said, “I’ve seen him. I know who he is. … I’ve seen him out and about. He’s not very social, I guess.”

One man at the scene, Carter Leary, was taken away in a marked car belonging to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

Leary is a relative of Gautier, Reed confirmed.

Leary lives near the standoff scene, neighbors said.

Leary was charged with resisting a public officer, according to an officer with the Beaufort County Detention Center.

“He did offer some assistance today at different points,” Reed said of Leary.

It was unclear how Leary assisted law enforcement. No further details were available Wednesday evening.

A man whom neighbors said was Leary was seen walking in a front of a house near the scene during the standoff.

A woman near the scene, Minnie Ramsey of Pinetown, said her daughter, Olivia, had been in contact with Gautier during the standoff via cellphone.

“He’s just saying he’s staying there,” Ramsey said.

She said her daughter, who was in Raleigh on Wednesday, had been a good friend of Gautier since both were 14 years old. Her daughter is now 31.

Ramsey said her family and Gautier used to reside in Rocky Mount and had been acquainted for years. She said Gautier called police to try and get help.

“When the police got there, he didn’t want help,” she said. “He wanted them to go away.”

Gautier is a construction worker who was injured in an accident a few months ago, she said.

“I don’t think he wants to die,” she said. “I think he’s just really confused.”

Responding to the incident, in addition to city police, were the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, the State Bureau of Investigation and representatives with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

An ambulance with the Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Department was parked in a safe location in case it was needed.