Police are again celebrating restraint after a mental health patient was arrested while brandishing two plastic handguns in South Aberdeen. Lieutenant Kevin Darst said it was reported last Friday afternoon. Police received numerous reports of a white male wearing a black baseball cap, black pants and black sweatshirt pointing two shotguns at people near the intersection of W. Marion and Exchange Streets.
911 dispatchers reported to arriving officers that he just pointed the shotguns at a group of kids and was now walking Westbound on Marion. Dispatch advised that a witness reported the suspect was aiming the shotguns at passing cars and he believed that he shot an orange Nova. Officers located the suspect at Marion and Mill Street. The officers knew the suspect on sight and identified him at Zachary A. Merrin. He was standing on the Northwest corner of the intersection and had what appeared to be semi-automatic pistols in each hand.
The officers on-scene utilized multiple weapons to include Tazer, rifles and a shotgun with less lethal flexible baton rounds. The officers were yelling at Merrin to drop the guns and he was not complying with those commands. Merrin was told that the Tazer and shotgun would be used if he did not comply with the orders. Merrin dropped the firearms, but then refused directives to back away from the firearms.
Two officers approached Merrin while other officers covered them. They were able to handcuff Merrin even though he resisted. He was arrested and transported to Grays Harbor Community Hospital for an involuntary mental health hold.
On closer inspection of the firearms, it was determined that they were airsoft pellet guns which normally have the end of the barrel painted or made of bright orange plastic to denote they aren’t actual firearms. Merrin had used a black marking pen to obscure the orange, making them indistinguishable from a real firearm. They did not locate any shotguns and determined that the pistols were mistakenly identified.
Officers located a 15 year old victim who was shot in the ankle as she was running away from Merrin with her 14 year old brother. She stated “I was scared and crying and thought I was going to die”. They ran to a friend’s house.
Charges were forwarded to the City of Aberdeen Prosecuting Attorney for consideration of charges of Assault 4th degree, Resisting arrest and Disorderly Conduct. Once again, these Aberdeen Police Officers showed great restraint during a highly volatile situation and resolved this situation with no injuries.