Ax assault suspect arrested after standoff

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who allegedly attacked his family members with an ax surrendered peacefully to Grand Rapids police Sunday evening after a standoff that lasted more than four hours.

The Grand Rapids Police Department said the suspect, 54-year-old Larry Walker, apparently argued with his brother and elderly father and then swung an ax at them and a friend. They managed to get the ax away from him, but a family member’s hand was injured in the process. That person was hospitalized, but the injury is not considered life-threatening.

Walker then holed up inside the house he shares with his father on Thelma Avenue SE between Griggs and Elliott streets. Officers arrived on the scene shortly before 3 p.m.

GRPD Capt. Geoff Collard said Walker told family members that he had a gun and that he was “not going to come outside without having some sort of a shootout with the police and/or potentially committing suicide by cop.”

Neighbors were told to go inside.

“What we don’t want to have happen is to him to come outside and start shooting at anybody or at the police, and/or us having to return fire and have anybody in the area that’s at risk,” Collard said.

An armored vehicle carrying GRPD’s Special Response Team arrived around 5 p.m. Negotiators were called in and managed to talk Walker into coming out without further incident around 7 p.m.

Police later said they didn’t find a gun in Walker’s possession or in the home.

“Any situation like this is extremely complex,” Collard said after the suspect was in custody. “We have negotiators that are trying to make contact with the individual and talk to him, trying to understand what’s going on from the other person’s perspective. And at the same time, we’re making plans from the tactical perspective in terms of what the Special Response Team is capable of doing to help resolve the incident. And all of that is designed, ultimately, to keep the neighborhood safe, to keep the individual involved safe and also keep our officers safe.”

A charge of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm is expected to be filed Monday.

Collard would not comment on Walker’s criminal history, but online records show he was booked into the Kent County jail on July 21 and Aug. 12. In the first case, he turned himself in for not paying child support. In the second, he turned himself in on a charge of larceny of between $200 and $1,000 out of Kentwood.

Neighbors told 24 Hour News 8 they had been worried about his mental health before the Sunday incident.

“He didn’t look like he was a normal person, so I was telling my mom to be careful every night,” said Bridgett Conner, whose mother lives next door to where Walker barricaded himself in.

“I frequently check on my mom because you never know who you live next door to (or) what’s going to happen,” Conner added.

Thelma was shut down in the area while the standoff was underway, but reopened around 7:30 p.m.

—24 Hour News 8’s Marvis Herring contributed to this report.

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