Mental evaluation for man in fake standoff

April 22, 2011 2:21:30 PM PDT
No charges have been filed in connection to a fake standoff in Oak Forest that led to the evacuation of neighbors and involved officers from more than 20 communities.

On Thursday, police received a call indicating an armed man was holed up in his Oak Forest home and possibly holding a hostage. About 100 officers responded and established contact with the man.

A standoff began - but several hours later it was revealed no one was home.

"I'm walking and all of a sudden I see a policeman with a rifle aiming across the street," Ray Sauerbier said.

Sauerbier lives in one of several Oak Forest homes in the quiet cul-de-sac that had to be evacuated Thursday.

"The initial information we're going off of is a friend who is very concerned about him where he had made suicide allegations that if police came, they would find him dead," Chief Greg Anderson said.

However, the 44-year-old man was never home. He was sitting at a nearby restaurant, talking with police on his cell phone. Several hours later, employees at the restaurant who saw the supposed standoff on television got suspicious and called police. SWAT officers finally broke into the home sometime after 9 p.m. and found no one was there.

"At this point we don't know what the medical condition of this person of interest is or what the intent is at the time. So I'm not going to call it a hoax, but it turns out the information was false," Chief Greg Anderson said.

The man has not been arrested, but he was taken to Palos Community Hospital where he is undergoing psychological testing. Depending on the results, he could face charges and be forced to pay back some of the costs of the standoff.

"If it's found to be a hoax, I assure you and I assure the taxpayers out there we would pursue this to the fullest extent of the law to recoup whatever damages we could," Mayor Hank Kuspa TC.

The entire thing lasted about six hours. With more than 100 officers responding, the mayor of Oak Forest estimates the amount of overtime spent by his department alone could be in excess of $75,000.

The mental evaluation could take weeks, officials said.