Modesto police evacuate downtown building after woman threatens to kill herself

01/02/2014 3:14 PM

01/02/2014 6:21 PM

Police surrounded and evacuated a downtown Modesto business Thursday after a client of the business pointed what turned out to be a replica gun at her own head.

The 52-year-old woman entered the Consulting in Education and Personal Skills business at 14th and F streets about 12:15 p.m. CEPS manages the funds of people, usually on government assistance, who are elderly or disabled and cannot manage their own finances.

The woman held the gun to her head and threatened to kill herself if she did not receive her money, said Lt. Brian Findlen.

“Even after receiving the payment, she was despondent and continued to make threats,” he said.

An employee called police, who quickly responded and shut down F Street between 13th and 14th streets. An employee told officers the same woman had once stabbed herself inside the business, Findlen said.

Two hostage negotiators were among about a dozen officers who responded.

Police evacuated six employees and eight clients from the rear entrance of the building, but a ninth client refused to leave.

Because the woman refused to evacuate, police for a short time didn’t know whether they were dealing with a hostage situation.

But the woman with the gun left the building within minutes of the evacuation, laid down on the ground and was apprehended. The incident lasted about 20 minutes.

The woman was placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold; her name was not released.

Officers found the gun, which turned out to be a “very real-looking replica,” Findlen said.

“This situation was definitely tense not knowing exactly what the woman’s intentions were, but thankfully it was resolved without anyone getting hurt,” Findlen said. “These are the situations we train for post-Columbine and other recent active shooter situations. We have to be prepared every time we have the belief that someone is armed, acting irrationally and in what would be deemed a target-rich environment.”

Representatives from CEPS declined to comment.

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