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Man, 23, taken to hospital after suicide standoff

POSTED: February 9, 2008 5:03 a.m.
GAINESVILLE — Law enforcement officials have released the name of a Gainesville man who was involved in a two-hour standoff with police after threatening to shoot himself.

Matthew Christopher White, 23, of Gainesville was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for treatment late Saturday after threatening to commit suicide in his room at the Ramada Limited on Jesse Jewell Parkway.

Gainesville police arrived at the Ramada Limited at about 10 p.m. Saturday.

A member of White’s family contacted the police after White told family members of his intentions, said Gainesville police Capt. Paul Sherman.

Sherman said a male negotiator with the department talked to White on a hotel phone for two hours and eight minutes before White agreed to come out of his second-floor room.

Sherman said White was "very cooperative," and officers were able to establish phone communication within five minutes of arriving at the hotel.

Negotiators are trained to deal tactfully and gingerly with such situations, Sherman said. Usually, negotiators are able to talk down people in distress as long as they are not under the influence of any drugs, Sherman said.

"You take your time with it. Time is on your side," Sherman said. "Your greatest resource is your time. There’s no need to go crashing into the room; there’s no need for anybody to get excited."

There was no indication that White was under the influence of any drugs, Sherman said. "He was just in distress, some personal distress."

According to Paul Sevak, the hotel’s manager, White had been staying at the hotel since Thursday night when he paid for a three nights’ stay.

Sevak said he had not noticed anything strange about White. Until the incident happened, he only knew that White had paid for the room through Sunday.

"It happens to any place in America nowadays, you know?" Sevak said.

"People come in, stay in a motel and do whatever they want to do, you know?" Sevak said. "Some people run away from their families; some of them are just hiding; some of them do drug dealing; some do prostitution. I mean, there’s so many things they come and, you know, stay at the motel, you know?"

"We did our part," Sevak said. "Whatever happens behind the door is everybody’s secret."

All hotel guests who were staying on the second floor were evacuated to the hotel lobby during the standoff, Sherman said.

No charges were filed, but police found a loaded .38-caliber handgun and some of White’s personal effects when they entered the room.


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