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Florida Cop’s Facebook Friend Request Saves Suicidal Man’s Life

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Stock image of Facebook on computer screen. (Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Stock image of Facebook on computer screen. (Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CBA Tampa/AP) — A Facebook friend request from a Pasco County Sheriff’s deputy may have saved a despondent man’s life.

Officials in Odessa, about 25 miles north of Tampa, said an armed man barricaded himself in a backyard shed Wednesday and told his wife he was going to “do something to make the cops kill me,” according to a police report released Thursday.

WTSP-TV reports that the man was holding a .357 handgun during the incident.

The man’s wife told officers that he hadn’t been taking his medications and was acting erratically by throwing dishes around the kitchen, the report said.

There was no phone in the shed, but there was a computer. Cpl. Arthur Morrison II — a hostage negotiator — sent a Facebook friend request to the man, who accepted. The man then defriended Morrison, but Morrison sent another friend request, and the man accepted again.

“We’ve never used Facebook in this manner before,” said Morrison, who only recently created an account as part of his regular job as a school resource officer.

The two chatted online, and the transcript was part of the police report.

“Hey are you ok?” wrote Morrison.

“Who really wants to know?” replied the man.

Morrison told the man that he was a negotiator who wanted to help.

“I’m damaged goods,” the man wrote.

“I don’t believe that,” the officer replied.

The two chatted for a total of 45 minutes. Unbeknownst to Morrison, the man was trying to light a mattress in the shed on fire while talking online. The man told Morrison to call the fire department and wrote: “black smoke in here.”

About five minutes later, the man walked out of the shed, unharmed.

He was taken into custody and then involuntarily committed to a mental health facility.

“I think if he hadn’t have reached out and accepted that lifeline, it could have turned out worse,” Morrison said. “I think it did help.”

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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