Hourslong police standoff with armed man in Frisco ends peacefully

Ryan Spencer
Summit Daily

The Frisco Police Department and Summit County Sheriff’s Office attempted for hours to negotiate with the man before deploying chemical munitions

Law enforcement deployed chemical munitions to force an armed man from his vehicle, peacefully ending a more than four-hour standoff in a Frisco supermarket parking lot Wednesday morning, Sept. 13.

The standoff began around 7 a.m., when police stopped a black Ram 1500 that was driving erratically in the parking lot outside the Safeway on Colorado Highway 9, according to Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman.

“We were negotiating with him for hours,” Wickman said. “He was very erratic up and down. He said at one point ‘kill the police.'”

When police made contact with the North Carolina man driving the truck, he was smoking marijuana and started making threats, leading police to back away, Wickman said. Early on, police pinned the pickup truck, which had a thin blue line decal on the back window, between an armored vehicle and a police SUV.

Police witnessed the man with a KA-BAR knife and another smaller knife, Wickman said. The man also indicated he had a gun in the truck, but police never saw it, he added. The Frisco Police Department is seeking a search warrant for the vehicle.

For hours, the Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team, a Summit County Sheriff’s Office program that deploys social workers alongside law enforcement, negotiated with the man, who refused to exit the vehicle. Police flew drones above the vehicle on several occasions. 

As law enforcement officers trained their guns on the pickup, negotiators at times referred to the man by his first name, Craig.

“We want to resolve this peacefully,” an officer said over a megaphone. “Drop your weapons and come out with your hands in the air.”

Law enforcement officers take cover behind a police vehicle while negotiating with an armed man who refused to exit his black pickup truck on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

Loud music could be heard from within the pickup truck for much of the standoff. A few times, the pickup truck appeared to turn its engine on, and once or twice the man honked his horn. All the while, police continued to shout orders, telling the man to turn down the music so they could talk and to drop his weapons out of the window.

Law enforcement officers closed a section of Colorado Highway 9 near the standoff around 10 a.m. to protect the public from stray projectiles, Wickman said. Police vehicles barricaded the entrances to the supermarket parking lot throughout the morning.

“He’s a safety risk to the public,” Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said. “He’s demonstrated that he’s armed and he’s not surrendering even after hours of negotiation with SMART.”

An officer walks toward a police standoff with a rifle outside of Safeway in Frisco on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

Throughout negotiations, police warned the man that if he did not comply with their commands, they would use chemical munitions. At one point, the man began dropping small items out the passenger’s side window of the truck.

As long as negotiations were ongoing, law enforcement would not leave the scene, FitzSimons said. A little before 10:30 a.m., the sheriff said police were working on a “surrender plan” with the man. But that plan never came to fruition.

During negotiations, police had the man’s girlfriend on the phone in an attempt to help, Wickman said. The man, however, eventually cut off those negotiation efforts.

Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman, left, stands behind officers as they secure handcuffs on a man who they engaged in a four-hour standoff with on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

“We exhausted everything,” Wickman said.

Around 11:30 a.m., police with shields and bulletproof vests closed in, deploying several shots of chemical munitions at the vehicle. Moments later, the man exited his truck through the passenger’s side. Police shouted commands for him to put his hands on his head before proceeding to handcuff him and escorting him into the back of a police vehicle.

The Frisco Police Department declined to immediately identify the man. Wickman said the man was uninjured, but he could not immediately provide information about whether the man will face criminal charges.

The closure on Colorado Highway 9 reopened shortly before noon.

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