PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - After three and half hours of negotiating, the Punta Gorda Police Department was able to end a standoff safely.
Just after 9:30 Monday night, Punta Gorda Police Lt. Christopher Salsman pulled over Michael J. Smith, 61, at the intersection of U.S. 41 north and Olympia Avenue for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
As Lt. Salsman approached the Smith, he heard a gunshot come from inside the vehicle, which was later ruled as an accidental discharge. The, Salsman saw Smith place a gun to his head and refuse to exit the vehicle.
PGPD along with the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office evacuated the surrounding area and secured a perimeter. After that, Lt. Joe King, crisis negotiator for PGPD, called Smith on the telephone and began negotiations to end the standoff.
Law enforcement evacuated approximately four downtown city blocks during the negotiations. "We was working and cops came and told us to get out," said Ricky Barbosa, who witnessed the stand off. "We was in range of fire, so we had to leave."
After over three and a half hours of negotiation, Smith was convinced to surrender and he was taken into custody at 1:08 a.m. Smith was transported by Charlotte County Emergency Medical Services to Bayfront Health Punta Gorda for evaluation. As of this time, charges are pending.