Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
A man with an AR-15-style rifle in a Wilson hotel room was arrested and briefly committed for a mental health evaluation after police say his bizarre behavior led to a Friday afternoon standoff.
Police said 31-year-old Michael C. Smith of Wilson was taken into custody after crisis negotiators and family members worked together to retrieve the gun from his room at the Days Inn, 1801 Tarboro St. No one was injured during the incident.
Officers were called to the hotel at 2:10 p.m. after someone reported “a male subject staying at the hotel was acting strange and was armed with an AR-15-style rifle,” police spokesman Sgt. Steve Stroud said in a news release. Smith’s unusual behavior was not described.
Police “took covert locations around the hotel and observed Smith carrying the rifle and shouldering the rifle,” Stroud said. The Wilson Police Department’s tactical and crisis negotiation teams were dispatched to the scene.
Negotiators spoke to family members and a woman who was in Smith’s room and guided her through the process of retrieving the gun, Stroud said.
About an hour into the standoff, a woman was seen driving a tan Lexus from a side parking lot to the front of the hotel. The woman got out and officers searched the car and removed a semiautomatic rifle. Police checked the gun’s magazine and chamber as she waited on the curb.
Stroud said police later made contact with Smith in his room and arrested him without incident.
Officers secured an involuntary commitment order and brought Smith to Wilson Medical Center, where Stroud said he was evaluated and released.
Smith was charged with going armed to the terror of the public, a Class 1 misdemeanor, and received a $3,000 secured bond.
HOSPITAL, SCHOOLS ON ALERT
As the Days Inn standoff unfolded, nearby facilities shut their doors and increased security as a precautionary measure.
“Businesses and schools in the area were notified and placed on lockdown due to the area that the incident was occurring in being highly commercial and populated,” Stroud said.
For more than two hours Friday afternoon, businesses near the Days Inn were put on lockdown after police received reports of an armed person in the Glendale Drive area.
Wilson Medical Center spokeswoman Lisa Briley said hospital staff received word from police at 2:40 p.m. and immediately went into an external lockdown, The precaution meant no one could enter or leave the hospital until 4:44 p.m. when the lockdown was lifted.
Increased security was in place for the emergency department during the lockdown as well as nearby at the Wilson County Health Department. Assistant County Manager Ron Hunt said patients with appointments were required to show identification before being allowed into the building, but the inside of the building and nearby emergency services facility already have limited access.
Vinson-Bynum Elementary School, which is down the street from the hotel, also instituted a lockdown.
“We actually went into lockdown before dismissal at about 2:45 and stayed in lockdown and then went into shelter-in-place,” Principal Daniel Barnes said. “We had deputies here and we conducted an indoor dismissal where we escorted kids to the cars with deputies present.”
Drew C. Wilson, Brie Handgraaf and Corey Friedman contributed to this report.