A young Scotsman has pled guilty to four counts of assault and threatening behaviour after a tense armed but fatality-free standoff with police. Had officers not shown the restraint and caution they did, it may have ended very differently.
On September 23, residents of a hamlet on the Scottish island of Shetland reported seeing a young man roaming the streets with a rifle. The gunman was Samuel Barlow, a local 16-year-old who had been tormented online by bullies.
When approached by the area’s two armed police officer's, Barlow took aim at them. A special armed police unit was flown in from the mainland to deal with the threat.
Negotiators tried to talk Barlow away from a seawall as heavily armed police prepared to take him out. Yet, during the standoff, police learned from the boy’s father that he is autistic and the the gun in his possession might have been an air rifle.
It soon became apparent that Barlow may have been trying to commit ‘suicide by cop.’
Officers eventually managed talk their way close enough to Barlow to disarm and arrest him. It was only when they did that they realised he posed only a minor threat.
“I am not sure if the accused appreciates how close he came to being shot by police”, said prosecutor Duncan Mackenzie. “At the very end, only as the accused was being restrained, it was confirmed he had only an air rifle.”
Not a single shot was fired during the standoff.