LARGO — An armed man threatening suicide at John S. Taylor Park forced lockdowns at two elementary schools, a street closure and the evacuation of the park Monday afternoon, Largo police said.
The 45-year-old Clearwater man, who was not identified, "was despondent over financial issues," said Largo police spokesman Lt. Mike Loux.
A friend of the man called police shortly before 2:30 p.m. and said he was sitting in a vehicle at the park, armed with a handgun and threatening to kill himself.
Largo police responded, closed the park and notified Pinellas school district officials to lock down Mildred Helms Elementary School at 561 S Clearwater-Largo Road and Ridgecrest Elementary at 1901 119th Street N.
Students at those schools were held in their buildings after their normal 2:50 p.m. dismissal time, said district spokeswoman Andrea Zahn. The lockdowns were lifted about 3:30 p.m., she said.
Largo's Tactical Apprehension and Control Team was called in and negotiator Kim Allred was able to persuade the man to leave his vehicle, Loux said.
"She's been on the team about a year now and it's the second time we've used her as a primary negotiator and it's been successful, to her credit, because in both cases she was able to talk them down," Loux said.
The man was taken into custody about 3:50 p.m. when he came out of his van. Police found a loaded, semi-automatic handgun on the front seat, Loux said.
The man was detained under the state's Baker Act and taken to a local hospital for evaluation. No criminal charges were filed.
The park was reopened after the man was taken into custody.