Police standoff ends with robbery suspect's suicide during negotiations

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on March 5, 2014 at 6:48 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 7 at 1:18 PM

Map: 43rd Avenue and Northern
Tatum and Bell

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PHOENIX -- A police standoff that went on for about six hours Wednesday morning ended when the suspect shot himself in the head as negotiators were speaking with him.

The man, later identified as Andrew Joseph Desgranges, had been holed up in a house in the area of 43rd and Northern avenues.

According to police, the 27-year-old robbed a Subway restaurant near Bell Road and Tatum Boulevard just before 5 a.m. According to Officer James Holmes of the Phoenix Police Department, the man actually ordered a drink and called for a cab before the armed robbery.

While there were several employees there at the time, not one of them was hurt.

When he left the Subway, Desgranges went to a nearby Wal-Mart where he met the Discount Cab he had called. That cab took him to his home, which is about a 25-minute drive from the Subway.

A witness at the Wal-Mart saw Desgranges get into the cab, but apparently thought something was not right about the situation.

"Whatever it was that he did, the witness at the Wal-Mart said that it was suspicious," Holmes explained. "The witness actually followed that taxi for a little while, long enough to get information to give to our police officers."

Holmes said Desgranges did not harm or even threaten the taxi driver.

"The taxi driver was never really in any danger from him because had no idea what was going on," Holmes said.

According to police, Desgranges' roommate was in the house when the suspect arrived. Holmes said he came out and cooperated with officers, letting them know that there were weapons inside the house.

Aerial video from Chopper 3 and the Fort McDowell Casino News Chopper showed several police vehicles on the street in the blocked off neighborhood.

At least one K-9 unit was on the scene and the Phoenix Firebird helicopter was circling overhead. SWAT officers were called in, as well, which is standard procedure in this kind of situation.

Holmes said it took officers and negotiators quite some time to make contact with Desgranges. He initially refused to answer them, but eventually did start communicating via text messages.

Negotiators tried to persuade Desgranges to surrender peacefully, but that's not what happened.

"The young 27-year-old male took his own life as we were trying to convince him to come outside," Holmes said.

Desgranges was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We were negotiating with him," Holmes said. "We did the best that we could. ... The whole idea was for us to get him to give himself up and come out with our detectives and he just refused to do that. ... We were still speaking with him when he took his own life. Our negotiators were actually in there talking to him."

"It saddens us. This is loss," Holmes continued. "Our goal is no injuries to anyone and unfortunately we did not reach that goal today. ... Preventing the loss of life is what we do."

Officers and negotiators believed they almost had Desgranges convinced to surrender.

"There were a couple of times when we thought for sure that he was actually going to come out and surrender himself," Holmes said. "Unfortunately right in the middle of that conversation, the young man took his life."

A neighbor told 3TV's Jill Galus that police evacuated her from her home at about 5:30 a.m. Other residents were told to stay inside their houses until further notice.

Even though the neighborhood was locked down, officers were working with residents to help them safely leave their homes and go about their days.

While police said Desgranges had a criminal history, they have not released any details about it.

Holmes said the witness at the Wal-Mart who called police did exactly the right thing.

"That falls right in line with, again, with what we ask our citizens to do all the time," he said. "That is if you see something, say something."

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