In the wake of an early Friday standoff that endangered officers and created a dangerous crossfire situation to the neighborhood surrounding Liberty Park, Sedalia Police Chief John DeGonia said recent training helped defuse the incident and possibly saved the suspect’s life.
“We deal with this more and more,” DeGonia said. “The commanders took a course at the police conference and passed it on to our front line people. Some of those things — you take your time, you talk to the individual, you have a police presence, but not so much of a presence that it agitates them further — we used from the training and I’m extremely happy with the way the officers handled this.”
While the suspect faces several felonies, and people were removed from the park for safety reasons, authorities said the situation could have ended on a much worse note.
“We could have, unfortunately, had to take someone’s life or shoot someone and that’s the last thing we want to do. We would rather take our time and do what’s necessary as long as it doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the public. It was a successful outcome, but it could have gone another way. Thank goodness for his sake and our sake it didn’t turn out that way,” DeGonia said.
Prosecutors charged Michael R. Cook, 42, with three counts of assault on law enforcement, all class C felonies, making a terroristic threat, a class D felony, and making a false report, a misdemeanor. His bond is $10,000 cash or surety.
According to court documents, Cook called 911 and told dispatchers people were shot and the “suspect” saw him. After giving dispatchers this false information, he hung up. Officers said they believe he made the call purposely to garner a police response.
Upon responding to find a man standing on the bridge with what appeared to be a rifle, yelling, and telling authorities to get back and threatening to shoot them, officers took up defensive positions around the park. Cook pointed the gun at several officers and demanded to speak with his daughter, at one point yelling, “Shoot me. Let’s go boys. Come and get me.”
Cook walked the bridge for the next hour, telling officers to shoot him and that he had plenty of ammunition.
When his daughter arrived on the scene to a guarded, concealed location, Cook began to walk away from the bridge toward her. Officer Ryan Reed seized this opportunity to get behind him and deploy a Taser.
As Cook passed Reed’s location, Reed ran behind him and told him to drop the weapon. Cook turned around with the rifle in his hands and Reed deployed the Taser, causing Cook to fall to the ground and drop the weapon. Officers then restrained Cook and took him into custody.
After the situation ended, officers discovered the “rifle” was actually a fake. Cook’s daughter told officers during the standoff that he possibly manufactured a fake rifle, but officers could not confirm that because of the distance.
Police say even up close, the fake rifle looked real until they actually held it. The weapon had a real stock, with a metal pipe for a barrel and a metal bolt that resembled the bolt of a real weapon. A small piece of metal was adhered in the trigger guard and the device had a sling strap.