Tactical Response Team Responds in Waukegan After Man Attempts to Set Lake County Sheriff’s Deputies on Fire, Barricades Himself; Incident Resolved No Injuries

Scene Just North of Waukegan High School

Members of the Lake County Sheriff’s Civil Process Team on February 25, 2020 at about 9:40 a.m., attempted to serve a mental health writ on a 38-year-old Waukegan man in the 0-99 block of Philippa Avenue. The mental health writ was ordered by a Lake County Judge on February 24, 2020 and ordered deputies to take the man to an area mental health hospital.

The residence on Philippa Avenue, on Waukegan’s near south side, was initially a single-family residence, but subdivided into apartments. When Lake County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to enter the foyer of the house, they found the front door was barricaded. The homeowner gave the deputies permission to force entry into the common area. The deputies forced the front door open and found it had been barricaded by a large piece of furniture.

Upon entering, the 38-year-old man emerged from his second-floor apartment. The man was verbally noncompliant and attempted to set the deputies on fire by spraying lighter fluid, through a flame from a lighter, toward the deputies. The deputies were able to block the stream of fire by utilizing their shield. A small fire was ignited in the foyer. The deputies retreated and retrieved a fire extinguisher from their squad car, and extinguished the fire.

The deputies immediately began crisis communication with the man and called for additional assistance. Members of the Sheriff’s Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COaST), Sheriff’s Negotiations Team, and Crisis Intervention Team spent several hours talking to the man, attempting to have him surrender peacefully. The man continued his noncompliance throughout the hours of negotiations. Several times he appeared at the top of the stairwell, armed with knives, telling deputies, “come get me.”

“This was an extremely volatile and tense situation. Our staff was interacting with an unstable man who was clearly in mental distress, and posed a risk to himself and others. I could not be prouder of our staff who took their time and worked together to take this man into custody without injury to him or anyone else. This is precisely what they train for and that training paid off today.”

— Sheriff John Idleburg

Members of the Sheriff’s Tactical Response Team (TRT) responded and formulated a plan to safely take the man into custody. TRT operators introduced pepper-based dispersion into the apartment, however, this did not cause the man to exit. TRT operators also fired beanbag rounds toward the man, when he appeared near his doorway with the knives. This caused him to drop one of the knives, but he again retreated into his apartment. TRT operators breached the second-floor windows and entered the apartment through one of those windows, while other deputies continued crisis communications. At approximately 4:20 p.m., TRT operators then took the man into custody without causing injury to him or them.

The man was transported to a mental health facility.

During the barricade incident, the Waukegan High School Washington Campus, which is located about one block southwest of the address of the incident, was placed on soft lockdown.

Robert Abbott Middle School, located about one block southwest of the address of the incident, was also placed on soft lockdown.

Miguel Juarez Middle School, located about two blocks west-northwest of the address of the incident, was also placed on soft lockdown.

Career Academy AOEC, located on Glen Rock Avenue, just south of the Waukegan High School Washington Campus, was also placed on soft lockdown.

Children’s Garden Daycare on Phillipa Avenue was also secured by law enforcement officers during the barricade incident nearby.

Washington Street was closed from Jackson Street, east to Glen Rock. Glen Rock Avenue was kept open for traffic.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office thanked Waukegan Police for their assistance along with the other law-enforcement agencies who responded to assist with traffic and crowd control.

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