Editor's note: This story was published in last week's Thursday Sun Advocate two days after the standoff. This is a more detailed account of those events.
Last week, the Price City police answered a reported assault involving a family dispute. Although the call initially appeared to be relatively standard, concerns were raised after it became known that a loaded shotgun was involved, which prompted the Emergency Response Team (ERT) to be called out.
Upon arrival at around 12 a.m., police began to scout the area around the residence. It then became clear that a plan of action would be needed in order to bring the situation to a close.
"We had a violent suspect who was reported to be high risk and suicidal. That's when we decided to scout the premises, which took a while to do safely. (After the scout's briefing), the situation was very severe as the suspect had loaded shotguns. It was concluded that a deliberate entry was needed," said Brandon Sicilia, an ERT officer.
During the approach at about 3 a.m., a diversion was set up and the team kept quiet as they approached the door. Although a key had been supplied by a family member, the door was dead bolted. At this point, the plan had to be re-evaluated.
"We went dynamic, breached the door and made entry," said Sicilia.
Once in the ERT team was in the house, the suspect, Gary Hinkins, was not in the front room. Officers were forced to start checking the entire house. After they searched two rooms in the house, a dog started barking. Sicilia threatened to shoot, unless Hinkins surrendered, which he did. Although no shots were fired, a flash bang grenade was thrown. According to Sicilia, nearly every room in the house had at least one loaded gun and lots of ammo.
"He had several big guns loaded in arms distance; one of them was a magnum, which could have penetrated our tactical vest. He also had several hatchets and a double barrel shot gun with ammo lined up in the basement," said Sicilia.
For the most part, the plan went very well for the ERT. The situation was resolved. As the team is constantly training for such events, the officers were prepared. However, according to Sicilia, who has been involved in over 100 such incidents, nobody can ever get used to a life and death situation.