Two Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) officers detained a 52-year-old Island man at the 7800 block of S.E. 32nd Street at 4:45 a.m. after hearing five presumed gunshots.
They located the man, who was holding a gun, and determined that he was likely experiencing a mental health emergency, which was later confirmed by his wife.
Officers Corporal David Herzog and Officer Tim Derr were refueling while on patrol in Town Center when they heard the shots. Herzog stopped fueling, drove a block or two, and saw a man walking down S.E. 32nd Street toward him.
When questioned about the origin of the gunshots, the man pointed to the east. He then turned back around, with his arm extended, and handed Herzog a handgun, according to a news update from the city.
Herzog quickly grabbed the gun and secured it, as the suspect was taken into custody, interviewed and transported to Harborview Hospital for evaluation. Officers were able to locate all five rounds and confirm no injuries occurred.
“Officers determined he shot into a tree trunk,” said MIPD Commander Leslie Burns. “The man explained he thought he was being attacked by dogs and needed to stop them. There were no dogs. This was a hallucination of some sort.”
The police department said it is grateful that this incident ended well, and the Police Chief and Mayor commended Herzog’s calm handling of the high-stakes situation.
MIPD will submit a charge to the prosecutor for review, and the prosecutor will ultimately decide if charges will be filed.
“The gun will remain in our custody until a judge decides to release it and then we will determine if the owner of the weapon is legally able to possess firearms,” according to an update on the Mercer Island Police and Emergency Management Facebook page.
Washington state does not require gun registry, but it is believed the man is the owner of the gun, Burns said.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.