Officers ready for mental health scare
The threat was less severe than first thought, the outcome far less tragic than last year’s shootings at the Nevada County Department of Behavioral Health Services. But the response was better prepared.
Those reflections came a day after authorities arrested a Nevada City-area man at the department Thursday before he was charged with felony resisting arrest and two misdemeanors – exhibiting a firearm in a threatening manner and possession of a concealed weapon in a vehicle.
A complaint against 36-year-old client Darryl Keith Clayton was filed Friday in Nevada County. His arraignment was set for Monday.
Officers responded to the department after getting a dispatch report, according to Sheriff Keith Royal, stating that a man was in the lobby threatening to kill an employee.
But the situation wasn’t quite that grave, authorities said Friday.
Clayton, a Behavioral Health client, had become upset with a department crisis worker who recommended he undergo a 72-hour evaluation at a locked mental health facility, Undersheriff John Trauner said.
Trauner said it later appeared that Clayton did not threaten to kill any employees.
Clayton’s wife had brought him to the department after he allegedly threatened her with a gun at their home because she tried to dissuade him from going on a drive with an automatic pistol, Trauner said.
Clayton instead went on a walk near their home, and she later convinced him to see a crisis worker, Trauner said.
Upset at the worker’s recommendation, however, Clayton left the building.
“The concern was he was either going to commit suicide or commit suicide by cop,” Trauner said.
“All available units” were dispatched at 4:21 p.m., he said.
Nevada City Police Officer Sam Garland arrived at 4:23 p.m. and Sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Salivar at 4:24 p.m. They took Clayton to the ground with pepper spray after he refused to stop in the parking lot, according to Trauner.
Five officers responded within six minutes. An unloaded revolver was later found in the glove compartment of Clayton’s vehicle, Trauner said.
There was relative calm inside the department, according to its director, Dr. Robert Erickson.
“It was such a low-level event, I wasn’t even conscious of it until it was pretty much over,” he said.
Workers received a coded message over the sound system, and they responded by staying in their offices or away from the hallways and lobby, Erickson said.
The plan was a response to the Jan. 10, 2001 shootings that left two dead and one wounded at Behavioral Health and one killed and one wounded at Lyon’s Restaurant.
The alleged gunman, former client Scott Thorpe, is being held at Napa State Hospital.
Law enforcement has become better prepared since the shootings, Royal said, noting a keener awareness of mental health issues and better understanding of the department’s floor plan. “You prepare for the worst, but you hope it’s not,” the sheriff said.
The department also has a security officer, who Thursday followed Clayton out the door to make sure he didn’t return, according to Trauner.
Clayton is being held at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility on $50,000 bail. Court records show he has no prior felony convictions.
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