Standoff ends after apparent suicide

STANDOFF SHOTS FIRED:  A Walla Walla Police Department SWAT team member (left) fires something at a residence at 125 West Maple Street to break windows as other members of the SWAT team appraoch the home from the cover of the Emergency Services Unit Thursday afternoon, September 20, 2012 in Walla Walla, WA.

STANDOFF SHOTS FIRED: A Walla Walla Police Department SWAT team member (left) fires something at a residence at 125 West Maple Street to break windows as other members of the SWAT team appraoch the home from the cover of the Emergency Services Unit Thursday afternoon, September 20, 2012 in Walla Walla, WA. MATTHEW ZIMMERMAN BANDERAS

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WALLA WALLA – A three-hour police standoff on Thursday that closed off a block of residential street ended with the discovery of a suicide victim inside the house at 125 Maple St.

The incident was called in by emergency dispatchers just before noon.

Shortly after, officers closed Maple Street between Third and Fourth avenues.

The Walla Walla County Swat Team arrived around 1:45 p.m.

Officers attempted to contact the occupants with loud speaker.

Around 2:50 p.m. officers entered the residence, followed soon after by medical personnel.

Walla Walla County Coroner Richard Greenwood said one person was discovered inside, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Shortly before officers entered the residence, they approached beside the emergency services unit vehicle and behind protective gear. Then an officer fired a projectile at the residence, apparently to break windows.

After using remote equipment to examine the inside, officers entered the house. They exited a few minutes later and emergency medical staff went in. Shortly afterward, an officer spoke to a woman who was standing nearby and she collapsed in tears.

Mark Higgins of the Walla Walla School District had arrived earlier in the day to scout the block and plan after-school traffic.

Higgins said the district started safety procedures as soon as police informed them of the standoff.

“We went into a modified lockdown mode,” Higgins had said, adding only one bus stop was affected. “Now we’re mostly concerned with how we’re going to get kids home,” he said Thursday afternoon.

Higgins said school district staff would be in position to direct any kids attempting to walk home through the area.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” Higgins said.

U-B reporters Alfred Diaz, Luke Hegdal and Maria P. Gonzalez contributed to this report.

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