When the call came in on Monday, it was serious enough that Sgt. Paul Monahan had to leave behind a half-eaten Greek salad.
A man was waving a gun and threatening to kill himself.
Monahan, 47, is in charge of a dozen Pinellas deputies who patrol Oldsmar and Palm Harbor. He says a prayer every time he leaves for work. But any time a gun is involved, he gets nervous.
When Monahan and his deputies arrived at the home in Palm Harbor, Ronald Michaels, 66, had retreated inside. The man's wife told deputies her husband was a retired Chicago police officer. He'd held a gun to his head. He had a medical problem. He'd talked of shooting someone else.
It took about 90 minutes. Just after dusk, Monahan reached Michaels on the phone and persuaded him to leave his house without hurting anyone. He was taken to a hospital under the Baker Act.
We asked Monahan to talk about how he got Michaels to come out.
What did you say to him?
When I first talked to him, I said, "I want to discuss the dispute with your wife." And he said, "There's no dispute." And I immediately said, "I might be wrong about that."
And then I began to only speak of positive things.
What kinds of positive things?
Well I have family in Chicago and I'm familiar with the Chicago food festival where they have all the restaurants out at the park and you sample all the local foods. And he said, "Yes, I've worked there in off-duty details." And immediately we had something to relate to. I tried to build a friendship with him as much as I could. The first thing I want to do is win his confidence.
And I tried to address him as a cop as opposed to a former cop. I explained to him that as a cop he understands that he needs to come outside with his hands empty so we don't hurt him.
What did you say to your wife about it after it was over?
I told her it was another situation with a gun, and frankly it seems to be more and more of these things these days. I don't know if it's the economy or what, but the dangers are increasing for law enforcement officers. I didn't want to worry my wife too much. I tried to keep things positive.
Times staff writer Leonora LaPeter Anton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-893-8640. Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.