Calm response from deputy, dispatchers defuses suicide threat with loaded .45 caliber handgun

Published 12:22 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2022

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ORANGE — What stands out is how calm the response was. In fact, it might have saved a life, according to Sheriff Jimmy Lane Mooney.

That was the case earlier this month when Orange County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received a 911 call in reference to a suicidal man.

Dispatchers Jennifer Johnson and Chelsea Cripps sprang into action, gathering information and relaying important facts to responding personnel.

Deputies arrived on scene a short time later, including Deputy Shane Wilkinson, who was able to make contact with the man.

He was holding a loaded .45 caliber handgun when police arrived.

After approximately an hour talking with the suicidal man, Wilkinson persuaded him to unload the handgun, exit the vehicle and do so without hurting himself or others.

“What was memorable to me was the way (the dispatchers) stood calm,” Mooney said. “They stayed calm in that situation, and this guy was having a mental episode. They were able to keep their calm until a deputy got there.”

Mooney said Wilkinson, “one of the best guys we have on patrol,” remained calm, which led to the man in question receiving the help needed.

“You have to be placed into that situation many, many times,” Mooney said. “Shane has been a law enforcement officer a very long time. Our dispatchers are seasoned dispatchers. They know to remain calm is to think clearly.”

According to Mooney, Wilkinson has training in jujitsu. Mooney said Wilkinson knows when stuck in positions that don’t look favorable, if you remain calm and keep your wits, you will have a great outcome.

“He knows how to experience that and work that,” Mooney said.

The incident in question took place Oct. 8, and the Sheriff’s Office shared recognition certificates and public praise this week for the team response.

Service, dedication and staying calm through stress were highlighted for all officers involved.