Police Robot With Vape Pen Ends 6 Hour Gas Station Standoff
A vape pen was the best possible cigarette alternative for Novato, California law enforcement officers. The lack of ash, smoke and fire helped end a police standoff peacefully.
Dispute Over Pre-Paying at Pump
As reported by the Sacramento Bee, anger over payment options led Juan Roman to splash gasoline on the floor and threaten to burn down the Circle K mini-mart attached to the 76 gas station on Ignacio Blvd in Novato, CA, which is located about 45 miles north of San Francisco in northern Marin County.
In an interview with ABC 7 News, assistant manager Sanjee Kumar was understandably frightened after a seemingly simple transaction quickly escalated, “I said, sir you have to pre-pay for gas. He got so angry he took a gas can from his pick up and poured it all over the store.”
Security camera footage shows that at about 7am local time, Roman brought a can of gasoline into the store and began to walk through the aisles, splashing a trail of gasoline in his wake. Using a lighter he seized from the counter and loose paper as a wick, he attempted to set off a blaze. Fortunately, the gasoline soaked floor mat did not ignite and Roman fled the scene in his pickup.
The Best Cigarette Alternative in a SWAT Team Standoff
Roman’s incendiary actions drew the attention of law enforcement. Police located Roman in his truck at a Safeway gas station a short distance away but backed away when they spotted a long bag that could be used to conceal a shotgun in the cabin of his vehicle. This prompted a mass response and deployment of the SWAT team.
The police deployed a robot with a phone and the 40 year old suspect finally answered at 11:45am. A stressful morning for everyone involved, Roman requested a cigarette. The police were understandably hesitant to provide him with a lit cigarette, let alone a lighter, due to his earlier activities and the possibility he was soaked in gasoline.
After 6 hours, Roman agreed to surrender if provided with a vape pen. The police robot delivered the nicotine he needed and the standoff ended. “If we can do something that won’t make the situation more difficult, either deliver food, or water, or cigarettes, if that helps end the situation peacefully, we make that happen,” Lt. Sasha D’Amico of the Novato Police Department said.
The police found no weapons on the scene and Roman now faces attempted arson and vandalism charges. The Marin Independent Journal reports that the suspect has a history of “crisis situations.”
It is ironic that the FDA regulations on e-cigs aim to extinguish sales at gas stations and convenience stores and it was the availability and non-combustible cigarette alternatives that helped peacefully resolve an explosive situation.