A man armed with an assault rifle threatened suicide for several hours on a turnpike overpass in South Florida on Veteran’s Day, snarling traffic for miles.
Vietnam veteran Freddy Gutierrez, 59, of Sunrise, turned himself in after a tense, three-hour standoff.
“For some reason he’s facing deportation,” Davie Police Capt. Dale Engle told The Huffington Post. “He expressed that he’s having issues receiving services through the veterans’ association.”
When reports came in of an armed man on a flyover just after 8 a.m. Monday, police shut down both I-595 and Florida’s Turnpike, stalling multiple lanes of heavy commuter traffic in four directions.
“All of a sudden traffic stopped and police cars pulled right in front of everyone and all of a sudden I just saw lots of men with guns,” driver Michelle Decarion told CBS Miami. “A really intense morning just seeing the cops, really distressed and concerned.”
A SWAT team arrived and hostage negotiators began a dialoge with Gutierrez, who according to CBS carried a homemade sign reading “HIPPOCRATE TRAITORS” and had what appeared to be a rifle with an American flag tied to it.
Engle identified the weapon as an assault rifle. The flag was visible flapping in live news chooper footage, which showed a white van pulled over to the side of an overpass some 70 feet in the air. Gutierrez sat for a long time with one leg over the side barrier, and was drinking beer and smoking a cigarette according to Local10 reporter Tamika Bickham.
At one point, Gutierrez put a noose around his neck with the other end of the rope tied to his van.
Police moved drivers out of shooting range and kept their distance until about 11 a.m., when a SWAT truck rolled up the overpass and Gutierrez walked to it with his arms raised, surrendering himself into custody.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports his wife was on scene, helping negotiators talk Gutierrez down.
Family members told NBC6 that Gutierrez has been troubled since serving in Vietnam, where he was shot down in a helicopter. Still, his sister told the station that she never expected the scene that unfolded Monday morning: “I’m shocked,” she said.
This is a developing story. It will be updated as more information is learned. See how the incident unfolded below:
A man is sitting on south bound ramp from turnpike to 595. One leg dangling over the side
A man is threatening suicide on the turnpike south bound near I 595. Threatening to jump. He also has a gun.