PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A man who was threatening self-harm is safe and in custody after a situation unfolded on the west end of Panama City Beach.
Bay County Sheriff's Deputies responded to the area around the Dunkin' Donuts on Highway 98 near Carillon Beach after getting a call about a man who wanted to hurt himself and could possibly be armed. Dunkin' Donuts employees tell us they also called law enforcement after the man allegedly tried to get inside a car in the drive-thru.
"A lady came through the drive thru and over our loud speakers I heard her say get out of my car and when she drove around to the drive thru you could see she was noticeably upset. She said he was trying to get into her car and so she locked the doors. So I just automatically called 911," said Kelly Devine, a Dunkin' Donuts employee.
Witnesses say when deputies arrived, the man ran up a tree and was up there for more than an hour. During that time he yelled that he wanted to hurt himself.
After talking to deputies and family members on scene, the man started climbing down the tree around 11:30 a.m. As deputies were negotiating with the man, he climbed lower down the tree. Sheriff Tommy Ford said deputies shot the man with less-lethal projectiles because it was the only option deputies had under the circumstances. The man did fall from the tree but was close to the ground and not seriously injured. He was treated for superficial wounds.
"We were kind of in a catch 22 that he was so high up the tree any action we took could have risked a fall. Hostage negotiators were able to talk to him as well as his parents were on scene were able to get him low enough in the tree to take action and now he's in custody safely and getting the treatment health that he needs," said Sheriff Ford.