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'Distraught man' in custody following standoff with Charleston police at liquor store

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Distraught man

Charleston police officers negotiate with a distraught man inside a liquor store on King Street near Carolina Street on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Matthew Fortner/Staff

A man who entered an upper King Street liquor store swinging a bat and knocking over bottles was in custody and taken to Medical University Hospital for evaluation, Charleston police confirmed on the evening of April 7.

Officers were originally called at 7:34 p.m. the night before to 687 King St. for a report of a man breaking a door and window and throwing items into the street, according to an incident report. 

He was not named in the report but is identified as a 36-year-old North Charleston man. 

When officers arrived April 6 at the liquor store, Martha's Rock N' Roll Spirits, they found the man swinging a bat and knocking over bottles, the report said. He showed signs of "extreme paranoia" and seemed like he was suffering from some kind of mental illness. 

The man "stated he did all of this damage to his own business because he wanted law enforcement to assist him in investigating potential human trafficking issues, sexual abuse of his family and narcotic activity in the area," the report said. 

Charles Francis, a police spokesman, confirmed the man is the business owner. 

Officers spoke with the man and worked to deescalate the situation as well as convince him to seek medical attention, the report said. 

The man had destroyed several liquor bottles and tried to light the spilled alcohol on fire using a lighter, the report said. 

Crisis negotiators were called out but all first responders left in an ongoing effort to deescalate, Francis said. About and hour or two later, the man left on his own accord.

Although the man left the city, he returned to the store about 2 p.m. on April 7, he said. Workers were boarding up the store when they saw him and called police. 

"The subject was able to get back into the liquor store before it could be secured," Francis said.

About four hours later, Francis said, police had again closed King Street between Carolina and Line streets while they worked to get the man outside. 

Authorities warned pedestrians and motorists to avoid the area. 

Shortly after announcing the closure, Francis announced the man had been taken into custody. 

An investigation into the incidents is ongoing. 

Charleston police worked to deescalate each encounter with the distraught man with the goal of getting him medical attention, Francis said. He did not threaten anyone during either encounter. 

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-323-9175. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

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