FAIRVIEW, N.J. -- With patience and restraint, Fairview police officers convinced an emotionally disturbed man holding a loaded illegal handgun to surrender, avoiding a potentially tragic outcome.
"This was one of those things that could have gone bad but didn't because of the restraint and training of the officers," Police Chief Martin Kahn told Daily Voice Tuesday morning.
Officers were changing shifts around 3 p.m. Monday when a family member called headquarters saying that the man "was in the parking lot of an apartment building on the east side of town with a gun to his head," Kahn said.
The chief's officers cleared and secured the scene and searched the area, he said.
When they couldn't find the gunman, they traced the 911 call to his phone.
"He was depressed, bi-polar," Kahn said. "His doctor has switched his medication and it wasn't working properly, so it wasn't easing his anxiety.
"The doctor cut him off and he started trying to use drugs he bought on the street. But they weren't helping, either."
Rather than force the issue, officers talked with the man. Having been convicted of a felony a decade or so ago, he was concerned that he'd be jailed.
Officers told him that was a separate issue that he'd have to deal with at some point -- but right now all that mattered was getting him the help he needed.
"All of a sudden the door opened and he popped his head out," Kahn said.
He emerged peacefully, the illegally-bought .32-caliber revolver still in his waistband, the chief said.
It held five rounds, Kahn said, adding that there was no evidence of a sixth spent round being recently discharged.
The weapon was sent to the Bergen County Sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Identification for ballistics testing to trace its original source -- and determine whether it was used in any crimes.
The gunman, meanwhile, was taken to Bergen Regional Medical Center pending transfer to the county jail. He faces illegal weapons charges.
Cliffside Park police assisted, Kahn said.
"Tactically the officers on scene did everything perfectly," Kahn said. "Honestly, you couldn't script it any better.
"These things have the potential to go a lot worse. That it didn't is a credit to these officers."