Standoff Rattles Richland Neighborhood
RICHLAND, Wash. - An armed standoff shakes up a Richland neighborhood and nearby schools. It started as a fight between a man and his ex-wife, but as tempers flared, the man pulled out a gun and threatened to kill the woman, her son, and a young girl.
This standoff not only rattled the victims, but it also shook up neighbors and effected thousands of students this morning.
At about 7:15 a.m. Richland Police received a domestic disturbance call at 1446 Thayer Drive. A woman told police 37-year-old Darren Birden was armed with a gun and he was threatening to kill her. When Birden found out police were on the way, he fled to a house at the corner of Longfitt Street and Smith.
Police negotiated with Birden for half an hour before he agreed to come out peacefully.
"He wasn't really confrontive or resistive with us. He was very agitated about the whole situation, but that's probably to be expected under the circumstances," said Capt. Randy Barnes, Richland Police Department.
Once officers arrested Birden, police searched the house and found two handguns, several ounces of cocaine, some grams of marijuana, and equipment to make more drugs.
Birden was taken to Benton County Jail. He is being booked on two counts of assault, illegal possession a firearm, possession of drugs with intent to deliver.
The standoff took place only blocks away from several Richland schools. Once officers got the call, they immediately advised Richland School District Officials to lock down Richland High School.
Officials locked down Richland High, and just to be safe they also closed up Rivers Edge, Carmichael Middle School, and Jason Lee, and Marcus Whitman Elementaries.
Officials closed the schools for about an hour between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Although the standoff never made its way into Richland classrooms, officials said they will continue to over prepare for emergencies or disasters.
"I think you just need to read the paper. We can never be too cautious with our children's lives," said Dr. Rich Semler, Richland School District Superintendent.
Semler said once a month students from each school in the district practice for emergency situations like a fire or bomb threat. Three times a year Richland Police run surprise practice drills with school officials to prepare for incidents like a shooting or other disasters.