DeClemente again forces shutdown of Ravenel Bridge, police say
For the second time, Phillip DeClemente has forced authorities to shut lanes on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge because of his threatening behavior, officials said Saturday.
Late Friday night, DeClemente was taken into custody after police closed the bridge's northbound lanes for more than an hour.
On Feb. 2, 2012, thousands of motorists were stuck in traffic because of a standoff on the bridge between DeClemente and police.
DeClemente, 40, is being held at the Al Cannon Detention Center on charges of making threats and failure to stop for a blue light, according to the Sheriff's Office website.
The sequence of events that led to DeClemente's arrest on Friday began when patrol officers tried to stop a vehicle near Dunbarton and Northbridge drives in West Ashley, but the driver sped away. Police did not chase the vehicle. The motorist then drove to the Ravenel Bridge and stopped near the top of the northbound span where he called emergency dispatchers to tell authorities that he was there, officials said.
As a result, traffic was blocked from entering the bridge leading to Mount Pleasant from just before 11 p.m. until after midnight as police officers worked at the scene.
In the 2012 incident, DeClemente was arrested after he parked his SUV sideways on the bridge, blocking traffic, and contemplated killing himself, police said. On the Lexus' windows, DeClemente painted the words "Stay Away," "Back Off" and "Game Over." Inside the car, he had a smoke grenade and two cans of pepper spray, police said.
Police closed the bridge and eventually talked him into surrendering. DeClemente spent 30 days in the Medical University of South Carolina psychiatric unit.
After being discharged from the hospital, DeClemente told The Post and Courier that he wasn't suicidal, didn't have a bomb and had no plans to harm the bridge. He said he was trying to expose what he described as a smear campaign against him and ongoing harassment by police and private investigators.
Before the Friday night incident with DeClemente, police closed the bridge for six hours starting in mid-morning because of melting ice falling from the superstructure into travel lanes. Some drivers reported smashed windshields. Earlier, the weather had forced closure of the bridge for 43 hours until Thursday afternoon because freezing rain, sleet and snow made the span too slick for safe travel.