A ‘mentally distressed’ man armed with a fake gun entered the Orlando International Airport Tuesday attempting to commit ‘suicide by cop’ was taken into custody peacefully following a 3-hour standoff with police.
“Our negotiators did a phenomenal job of talking with the subject for about two hours and finally got him to peacefully surrender,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.
The incident was first reported in Terminal A at approximately 7:24 p.m. and authorities closed the terminal off, keeping travelers moving through Terminal B as the standoff continued.
“Our employees did everything in accordance with what OPD has trained them to do,” Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chairman Frank Kruppenbacher said. “You couldn’t have a better resolution. No one was hurt. The airport continued to operate on the other side.”
Authorities said the man was “a mentally distressed former Marine” and shouted at police, begging them to “shoot me, shoot me”.
Michael Wayne Pettigrew, 26, was in “mental distress” when police surrounded him at the rental car area of the airport, authorities said. He pointed what looked like a real gun at officers and himself, authorities said.
In a video taken from the airport, an officer can be heard telling Pettigrew, “You’re not going to prison, Michael, you’re going to the hospital.”
“I couldn’t make out the words, but he was screaming really loud,” witness Glorializ Colón Plaza told theOrlando Sentinel. “Everyone there told me right before this happened a man said to everyone: ‘You’re going to need mental therapy after this,’ then he pulled out a gun and everyone ran.”
The airport was cleared by 10 p.m.
“You couldn’t have had a better group of people responding to what was truly a very dangerous situation,” Kruppenbacher said.