SWAT Officer Shoots Man Threatening Suicide
ORLANDO, Fla. — A gunman sitting on a park bench forced the evacuation an Orlando community at the Element at Metro West apartments near Hiawassee Road and Lake Debra Drive on Tuesday and was eventually shot by a SWAT officer.
Eric Chenowith, 41, appeared to be drinking a soda, but police said he was armed with guns and SWAT crews were taking no chances, using trees for cover. Witnesses captured images (see them) of SWAT surrounding the man who, police said, was threatening suicide.
Eyewitnesses couldn’t believe what they were seeing Tuesday afternoon as the armed man on the bench drank a soda with SWAT crews taking cover in the tree line.
â€œI was just sitting by the pool and they were like, â€˜Come in, please. It’s not safe outside, so we’re going to keep you in here until we get him,â€™â€ eyewitness Joanna Brown said.
Brown saw the whole thing happen at the Element at Metro West. Some residents were forced to evacuate while the suspect was surrounded before being shot by an officer.
â€œHe was just sitting down with a gun toward him and a gun towards the ground and just tapping his knee, like nothing is happening,â€ Brown said.
In the images, Chenowith didn’t seem fazed by the officers surrounding him with guns drawn.
â€œThis is somebody outside, so everybody in his range of fire is going to be at risk, including police,â€ Sgt Barbara Jones of the Orlando Police Department said.
Investigators said Chenowith was threatening to kill himself and standoff negotiations failed when Chenowith threatened to kill an officer who was nearby.
â€œObviously, in order to engage the person, there had to be some type of threat,â€ Jones said.
Detectives said Chenowith lived at the complex and wouldn’t say why he threatened to take his own life or why in such a public place. After being shot, he was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center in stable condition.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the officer-involved shooting.