Police saw signs of trouble day before DeClemente's second standoff on Ravenel Bridge
A day before Phillip Louis DeClemente got into another standoff on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, police officers showed up at his doorstep.
The Mount Pleasant authorities were at his River Otter Court house Jan. 30 because he had sent farewell text messages to several friends. They worried that he planned to harm himself.
But after the officers coaxed him outside, the 40-year-old explained that he was simply severing ties with old friends, according to an incident report.
He was fine, he insisted. DeClemente went back inside and said he intended to stay there for the rest of the night.
The report hints at DeClemente's state of mind that led him to challenge a former business partner in West Ashley and prompted his ensuing bridge encounter with the Charleston Police Department. Supplemental incident reports and police-radio communications obtained this week through a S.C. Freedom of Information Act request also depict how the brief standoff came to an end.
His first confrontation atop the bridge had come in February 2012, when traffic was tied up for hours as authorities negotiated with the man saddled with personal and professional strife.
DeClemente remained in jail Friday on charges of making threats, failing to stop for blue lights and stalking. He declined The Post and Courier's request for an interview.
The chain of events started about 5 p.m. Jan. 30. That's when the Mount Pleasant Police Department fielded a call from a man who said DeClemente was saying "goodbye" in texts to two people, the report stated.
But after they arrived at his house on the marsh of Horlbeck Creek, officers saw no movement inside for 45 minutes.
They stopped traffic on his street. Neighbors said they hadn't seen him in days.
After a light on his front porch came on, though, DeClemente walked out.
He insisted to the officers that the text messages were directed to people he was no longer going to talk with, according to the document. He refused to let paramedics take him to a hospital and told the officers that "he would be OK," the report stated.
The ordeal lasted about two hours.
But the text messages continued the next day.
One recipient, David Leaird of West Ashley, eventually called the police around 10 p.m. Jan. 31 after DeClemente showed up outside his Northbridge Drive house. Leaird, a former business partner of DeClemente's, worried that DeClemente would harm him.
When Charleston officers arrived, they saw DeClemente's Honda leaving and Leaird clutching a gun and running after the minivan, according to the police-radio transmissions.
Leaird later explained that he has a concealed-weapons permit, and he was not arrested.
DeClemente, meanwhile, refused to stop for the police cruisers behind him until he reached the Ravenel Bridge.
By then, officers knew of DeClemente's history with the bridge. They blocked northbound vehicles from entering the span, but they wanted to end the situation without the traffic trouble he had caused two years ago.
"Let's try to give this guy a dialogue right quick," one officer said into his radio.
An officer got him on the phone.
DeClemente repeated past complaints about being harassed by local police departments, the Richland County Sheriff's Office and the FBI.
Police spokesman Charles Francis said DeClemente was quickly persuaded to walk outside and meet with the lone officer.
Doctors at Roper Hospital in downtown Charleston evaluated DeClemente. He was later jailed.
Inside his van, the reports stated, officers found a blue strobe light commonly used to mark police cars, two dogs and the orange vest he once wore in his days in the Charleston County Rescue Squad.
They also came across a military surplus "smoke grenade" in a camouflage bag, the reports stated. With part of the bridge still closed, explosives experts worked to render the device harmless.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.