9-hour SWAT standoff ends with the arrest of DV suspect

Cpl Briggs

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 at 6:09 p.m.

A 9-hour standoff ends with the arrest of a twelve-time convicted felon armed with a machete after dozens of SPD officers respond and de-escalation tactics are exhausted.


On 07-26-21 around 5PM SPD received a call of an “open-line” 911 call from a residence in the 500 block of S Arthur. The 911 call taker could hear yelling in the background but no one would speak directly to the operator before the line was disconnected. Multiple call-back attempts were unsuccessful.


SPD dispatched officers to ensure no one at the location was in danger. 911 calls in which a person is unable to speak to an operator can be indicative of a serious emergency. SPD patrol officers arrived on scene and observed a male outside. Upon seeing the officers the male quickly retreated into the house and would not come out.


SPD dispatch and officers were able to verify based on police and court records that the male was 41-year-old Richard Howard. An active court order prevented Howard from being at the location based on previous domestic violence incidents.


SPD patrol officers were able to get other occupants out of the house, including the female protected by the court order, and a child. SPD began communicating with Howard to surrender peacefully. Patrol officers were informed Howard was in the house and had armed himself with a machete. Additionally he was believed to have access to a shotgun.


Howard refused to come outside. Instead his demeanor escalated making it apparent he desired a violent encounter rather than a peaceful resolution, repeatedly taunting officers to use lethal force on him.


Police had probable cause to arrest Howard for violation of the court order, and residential burglary (domestic violence). Domestic violence laws in the State of Washington contain provisions regarding mandatory arrests. In this incident, based on the nature of the crimes, law enforcement was mandated by law to arrest Howard.


Based on Howard’s continued escalation and lack of compliance specialty unit resources from SPD SWAT, Crisis Negotiators, and EDU were called to assist. The utilization of specialty teams and equipment is done to maximize the safety of the community, officers, and the person suspected of criminal activity. Fire and ambulance units were also on hand.


For approximately 9 hours SPD worked to negotiate with Howard via phone, text, and PA announcements. During that communication Howard continually stated that he wished to have a use of force incident transpire, and made threatening statements about having access to “automatic weapons”.


After 7 hours officers utilized chemical munitions to an area of the residence Howard was believed to be in. The munitions appeared to have little or no effect. After almost 8 hours Howard exited the residence. However he was still not cooperative and would not leave the porch. Howard continued to make statements that he wanted officers to shoot him.


SPD continued to speak with Howard for more than an hour as he remained on the porch. SPD was finally able to negotiate a peaceful surrender and Howard was taken into custody without further incident. This incident followed the elements of new law enforcement laws in Washington State including LE’s required authority to use force, de-escalation tactics, and using the least amount of force necessary. 9 hours of negotiations is an example of how time consuming these calls are and how they require multiple teams of officers to resolve.


Howard is a twelve-time convicted felon with priors that include failure to register as a sex offender, unlawful imprisonment, and residential burglary.


SPD uses a tiered response system which prioritizes in-progress and life-threatening emergencies. As resources are utilized throughout the city the types of calls SPD officers are able to respond to varies based on available units. During this incident SPD units in other parts of the City were only able to respond to emergent calls for service. This meant that people who were reporting relatively minor crimes, or crimes that were not in-progress, did not receive a police response.


We thank the community members in the area for their patience as multiple streets/residences were blocked off as SPD worked the incident.


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