Tactical team gets 'real' practice

Man allegedly hallucinates armed intruder

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— After training all day with paint-ball guns, the Steamboat emergency response team got to do the real thing Wednesday night when a Steamboat resident called police reporting that there was an armed man in his home at 208 Fourth St.

After getting the call around 7:30 p.m., the city police department, with the help of three sheriff's deputies, surrounded the house and closed access to the block. They attempted to get the suspect to leave the house by ordering him out over a public-address system, but to no avail. Eventually, just before 9 p.m., the caller's roommate left the house, claiming there were no more people in the house, though the caller continued to reiterate his story, adding that the armed man was using heroine, said Art Fiebing, the city's assistant police chief.

At about 10 p.m., six of the members of the tactical unit busted into the downtown residence looking for a man with a gun who was supposedly hiding in a closet ready to shoot. After a thorough search, the team realized there was no one in the house and reported back to Fiebing.

The 31-year-old man who had phoned the police in distress was allegedly hallucinating when he claimed to have been threatened, Fiebing said.

Although police officers noted that the man seemed somewhat intoxicated, his story seemed feasible and serious enough to send the tactical team in, Fiebing said.

The police officers took him to talk with a mental health professional after the incident.

"Hopefully, this will cause this person to realize he needs to deal with his alcohol problem," Fiebing said.

Despite the fact that making a false report is a crime, there will be no criminal charges filed against the man because he was not likely attempting to fool the police when he made the call, Fiebing said.

"This person believed 100 percent that there was a guy in the house with a gun," Fiebing said.

The tactical team has been training with a Denver FBI team since Wednesday morning to deal with potentially dangerous situations such as hostage rescues or, as the case may be, potentially armed suspects.

The tactical team, Fiebing said, was well-prepared for the mission.

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