PORT ANGELES — A man who prompted a three-hour search on Port Angeles’ west side — and a confusing email and telephone bulletin warning residents across the region to “stay inside with doors locked” — was captured by police about 8:20 p.m. Thursday night.
Deputy Police Chief Brian Smith reported that an unarmed man identified as Dean Francis — who around 5 p.m. had reportedly threatened to commit suicide by taking an overdose of heroin — was in custody.
A citizen on the lookout notified officers of his whereabouts, Smith said.
Because Francis was considered a fugitive because of an outstanding arrest warrant, officers pointed their weapons at him but no shots were fired even though he attempted to flee back into woods, Smith said.
If not considered a fugitive, suspects believed suicidal are usually not confronted with weapons drawn, the deputy chief said.
Smith, while acknowledging that a terse email and automatic telephone warning around 7:15 p.m. was incomplete, noted that it “got a lot of attention” and helped authorities capture Francis.
“We greatly appreciate all the calls we got,” Smith said.
At one point, six Port Angeles Police Department units were joined by Clallam County sheriff’s deputies and a K-9 unit from Sequim police in the search for Francis, Smith said.
Around 5 p.m., police were alerted that Francis was heading into the woods threatening to commit suicide with an overdose of heroin.
Officers spotted him and made contact, but he fled back into the woods.
As the search intensified, authorities spotted him around 6:30 p.m. in the 200 block of West 15th Street, Smith said, but he again disappeared rather than continue contact with officers.
Around 7:15 p.m., Emergency Management identifying itself as the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office issued this alert to email recipients:
“K9 officers searching for fugitive. Stay inside with doors locked. Report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”
There were no other details, including location of the manhunt.
The Peninsula Daily News’ newsroom in downtown Port Angeles received a robo-phone call with basically this same information, but adding that the fugitive was “suicidal” and that the search was going on “in your neighborhood.”
At least one resident in the upper Deer Park area east of Port Angeles — and roughly 5 miles from the scene of the manhunt — reported receiving the warning to lock up and stay inside.
Smith said around 7:45 p.m. that an “all clear” was issued even though Francis had not been found yet.
He was not considered dangerous, and there was “no evidence” that firearms or weapons were being carried by him.