EXCLUSIVE: Calming words from a Bergen County Police Department dispatcher and restraint from local officers averted potential disaster after a drunken Westwood man threatened to kill himself with a loaded semi-automatic handgun, authorities said.
It was only after the troubled caller put the weapon down and surrendered that police said they discovered that he’d positioned several other loaded firearms in a path from his front porch into the Dean Street house.
“It looked like he was ready to go,” one veteran officer told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “Who knows what could have happened if it escalated?”
Calm all around kept everyone from finding out.
Cindy Saidel, a veteran dispatcher who worked for several years in Closter, took the call around 5:40 p.m. yesterday at the Bergen County Public Safety Operations Center in Mahwah after the 52-year-old man used his cellphone to dial 911.
Saidel apparently knew the caller, then kept him on the line while alerting police, Westwood Police Chief Frank Regino told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight.
“Apparently, he was intoxicated and holding the gun as he sat on his porch, saying he wanted to end his life,” the chief said.
Westwood police rushed to the Dean Street home, assisted by officers from Hillsdale and River Vale, Regino said.
They found the man sitting on his porch, holding what turned out to be a loaded Glock .9mm, the chief said.
“They showed the utmost restraint, given how close they were to him,” he said. “They laid back while the dispatcher talked with him.
“After about 15 minutes, he put the gun down and surrendered to our officers,” Regino said.
The man’s wife was contacted, responded to the house and gave police permission to search it, the chief said.
They found 20 guns, most of them inoperable, Regino said. “A lot of them had barrels separated from the stocks,” he said.
However, “there were also several loaded handguns around,” the chief told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
“So far, it looks like what he has are legally registered,” Regino said. “Our detectives are checking each one to be sure.”
The man was taken to Bergen Regional Medical Center, where he remained today, the chief said.
“There are no charges stemming from the incident,” he said. “He didn’t aim the gun at any of the officers. He was the only one home.
“Where he is now he hopefully will get the help he needs. I hope all goes well for him.”
Regino, meanwhile, said he’s writing to Saidel’s boss.
“She was just phenomenal,” he said.
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