This article first appeared in the Vail Daily on June 12, 2020
On Thursday, at 7:48 p.m., the Vail Police Department responded to a report of a male making threats towards his neighbors at 1612 Matterhorn Circle in West Vail. The complainant was in fear because his neighbor was in possession of multiple firearms in his residence.
Officers initially made contact with the man, 38, at his home. The man was found to be very agitated and exhibited signs of being in a mental health crisis, according to a release from the town of Vail. The man refused to speak with officers and retreated into his residence. He repeatedly yelled from his apartment for officers to get off his property and leave him alone.
The Eagle Valley Co-Responder Team, made up of law enforcement, mental health clinicians from the Hope Center and paramedics from Eagle County Paramedic Services, responded to the scene and attempted to communicate with the man. The man came out of his apartment and spoke with co-responders for a brief period but again retreated inside. Based on his actions and behavior, co-responders decided that the man should be placed under a mental health hold for his own safety.
Over the next several hours, co-responders made repeated verbal attempts to get the man to exit his residence. The man refused to leave or communicate with co-responders in any meaningful way. He was becoming more agitated and officers felt that their presence was escalating the situation. The man had committed no criminal violations and had not made any suicidal statements. The Vail Police Department was unwilling to use force to remove the man from his apartment and cleared the scene at 10:16 p.m.
At 5:55 a.m. Friday, June 12, the man was found dead from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the backyard of his residence. A small caliber revolver was found in proximity to him. The coroner responded and will determine the exact cause of death in the coming days.
The Vail Police Department extends its sympathies to the man’s family.
“The loss of a loved one is always tragic and is further compounded by suicide,” said Dwight Henninger, Vail’s chief of police. “The Vail Police Department along with Eagle Valley Behavioral Health and the Hope Center have worked tirelessly to prevent suicide and offer services to those in crisis.”
The staff of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health is also deeply saddened by the circumstances.
“On behalf of everyone at Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, an outreach of Vail Health, we are deeply saddened by the tragic death of (name redacted). We thank our law enforcement officers and Hope Center crisis team for their response to this complex situation, and their ability to minimize potential safety risks to the neighboring community,” said Dr. Casey Wolfington, community behavioral health director for Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. “Although we have made great strides in access to and affordability of behavioral health care in our community, we recognize that there is still a substantial amount of work to be done. Every loss has a devastating impact on our community. One loss is one loss too many. We encourage family, friends and community members to utilize Olivia’s Fund to receive no cost behavioral health services,” Wolfington continued. “We are here for you, and we grieve with you.”