SPIRIT LAKE - A man whom police say was intoxicated and appeared to be living in his car was disarmed by an officer without incident Friday after the male grabbed a loaded pistol.
The man, believed to be in his early 60s, was not charged or arrested by Spirit Lake Police Officer Dennis Sanchez because the man's intent with the gun was not clear, Police Chief Keith Hutcheson said.
"I thought the officer handled it very tactfully," Hutcheson said.
Officers responded to the car on Madison around 8 a.m. after family members from Shoshone County requested a welfare check on the man. Upon arrival, officers found the man inside a car with a tarp over it, Hutcheson said.
"As they spoke with him through the car window, they could tell that he was highly intoxicated," said Hutcheson, adding that officers could smell alcohol and the man visibly appeared to be drunk.
The man told Sanchez and Officer Dave Koontz that he had a gun in the car, and when the man grabbed the .25-caliber pistol, Sanchez immediately took it from him.
"The man never pointed the gun at the officer," said Hutcheson, adding that the pistol was loaded but there was not a bullet in the chamber. "The officer at that point didn't know if the man was simply getting the gun to show him or if there was an immediate threat."
Hutcheson said the man calmed down and officers offered ways the man could seek assistance. Police did not seize the pistol.
"The guy needed to get help," Hutcheson said.
Hutcheson said that, while officer-involved shootings have sparked a hot local debate recently, he believes police officers generally handle incidents with professionalism, as was the case this time.