Watch raw video from the scene here.
Police swarmed a local hotel Thursday afternoon when an anonymous caller claimed to have a gun, but after the building was evacuated, the caller was not found.
The call came in around 2:35 p.m., and the unidentified male told Statesboro police dispatchers he “was suicidal and had a firearm,” said Statesboro police Cpl. Justin Samples.
Officers responded immediately to Baymont Inn & Suites on South Main Street, where they began looking for a possible suspect and started evacuating occupants.
Cindy Phillips, a Statesboro resident temporarily housed at the hotel after a house fire, said she was startled when someone knocked on the door and she opened it to find armed officers “with Kevlar vests and guns that looked like AK-47s,” she said during the evacuation, standing at a gas station across the street.
“I woke up from my nap to answer the knock on my door and the cop asked, ‘Are you OK?’ I said yes and he said, ‘Are you sure?’ “
About five armed officers entered her hotel room and questioned another female in the room, then told Phillips they had to evacuate the building. Hotel patrons and staff were directed to cross the street and wait while officers searched the hotel, she said.
“We cleared all four stories, room by room.” Samples said. The caller was not located.
Such a response to a suicide threat is not always required, but Statesboro police handled the call as if it were a threat to the public due to the way it happened, he said.
The caller did not identify himself to dispatchers, and “we didn’t know what room he may be in,” Samples said. “It was difficult to gauge whether he was a danger to the public. If we are going to err, we are going to err on the side of caution.”
The evacuation and search took about an hour.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.