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13-282 Deputy Responds To Assist Suicidal Subject And Averts Possible Suicide By Cop Outcome

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Patrol Operations Bureau

Deputy John Sachse, Jr.
Age: 54
Hire Date: 03/17/2004

Justin Tucker (Attempt Suicide Subject)
DOB: 09/18/1937
Address: 4116 Salem Square Parkway, Palm Harbor

Ana Escobar Tucker (Complainant/Tucker’s wife)
DOB: 08/07/1958
Address: 4116 Salem Square Parkway, Palm Harbor

A deputy responded to a suicidal subject callout; and was able to de-escalate the situation and avert a possible suicide-by-cop outcome after the subject began challenging the deputy to shoot him.

The incident occurred at about 9:37 a.m. on December 24, 2013.

The incident occurred at a private residence located 4116 Salem Square Parkway in Palm Harbor.

At about 9:37 a.m. on December 24th,  54-year-old Deputy John Sachse, Jr. responded to assist a man, later identified as 78 year-old Justin Tucker, who had reportedly attempted to hang himself with a belt and subsequently armed himself with a hatchet/hammer and a rifle.

When Deputy Sachse arrived at the private residence, he spoke to the complainant 55-year-old Ana Tucker, who advised Tucker was in a bedroom.  The deputy then observed Tucker in the bedroom coming towards the door and waving the hatchet around and pointing the rifle towards him.

Deputy Sachse immediately retreated behind the frontdoor doorjamb and at gun point began to challenge the subject to put the weapons down. Deputies say the suspect’s wife attempted unsuccessfully to calm Tucker down.

According to the report, Tucker then exited the bedroom, threw the rifle down in front of a living room chair and with the hatchet still in hand, moved to the center of the living room and began to challenge Deputy Sachse to shoot him.

The deputy continued to challenge Tucker to put the weapon down. While remaining behind cover, Deputy Sachse decided to switch from lethal to non-lethal force.  He holstered his agency issued firearm and pulled out his electronic control device. Tucker continued to yell at the deputy to shoot him. At one point his wife attempted to approach him to calm him down. Sachse ordered her to step away.

Based on the Tucker’s demeanor and the concern for Ana’s safety, Deputy Sachse used his electronic control device to subdue the subject when the subject lowered the hatchet to his side. Tucker fell to the ground. Deputies were able to secure him in handcuffs and secure the weapons.  Tucker sustained minor injuries to his head from the fall and was treated on scene.  He was then transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

Ms. Tucker told deputies her husband was upset because his daughter would not be visiting for Christmas.

“This is an example of great restraint and excellent police work in dealing with a mental health issue where the outcome could have been much different,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri regarding the actions of Deputy Sachse.

Deputy Sachse served in the US Coast Guard for 28 years. He has been a deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office since 2004; and received Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) in 2005. CIT Training  is designed to create a mindset in teaching deputies how to recognize mental health issues and deal with them in the most effective manner possible.

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