PORT ANGELES — One of Port Angeles’ newest police officers talked a man off the rail of the east Eighth Street bridge in Port Angeles on Tuesday morning after he left a suicide note at Peninsula Behavioral Health.
Officer Jeffery Ordona, who joined the force this summer, said when he first saw the 39-year-old Port Angeles man on the east end of the bridge, the man ran from him, then hopped onto the railing.
Officers gathered at about 9:50 a.m. after a call from Peninsula Behavioral Health. By 10:15 a.m., the scene was clear.
Ordona successfully talked the man off the bridge, and the man was transported to Olympic Medical Center for an evaluation, police said.
“I talked to him indicating I would be able to help him and we’d figure it out,” Ordona said.
After the man stepped down from the rail, he made statements about “suicide by cop,” asking police if they were ready, Ordona said.
He had also told police in August he wanted to engage in a shootout, Chief Brian Smith said.
“We have to be prepared when someone says that,” Smith said. “That kind of information is going to make the officers more cautious.”
The man reached into a bag and two other officers drew their weapons, though they weren’t pointed at the man.
“We were a very long way from discharging a weapon,” said Smith, who praised the officers for providing protection for Ordona.
That protection allowed Ordona to continue negotiating and to de-escalate the situation, he said.
Ordona said he took the man’s attention away from the two officers and continued talking to him.
“I told him we’re not going to go that route today,” Ordona said. “I kept redirecting his attention to myself and engaged him.”
Officers detained him and found that he had no weapon. Ordona said from where he was standing, there was no way to tell the man didn’t have a weapon.
It was the first time Ordona has negotiated with someone on either of the Eighth Street bridges.
“It was a very successful outcome,” said Smith, praising Ordona. “He showed some tremendous common sense and verbal skills.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].