OUR VIEW: Thankful no one else was injured in standoff

Published 9:30 am Saturday, November 20, 2021

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The LaGrange Police Department dealt with a situation earlier this week that no law enforcement agency ever wants to be in.

A man, identified as Brian Jessee, was barricaded in a home on Sunny Point Circle and apparently armed with multiple firearms and Tannerite. In such a populous neighborhood, the LPD had no choice but to evacuate the area, asking residents to stay away from their homes.

A situation that everyone hoped would be resolved quickly soon continued into the evening hours. And then on until the next morning.

We aren’t privy to the tactical decisions the LPD and other law enforcement agencies made throughout this 18-hour standoff, but we think it’s clear that the law enforcement did everything it could to have this standoff end with a different result — one that would’ve ended with Jessee in handcuffs but at least still alive.

Unfortunately, it didn’t end that way.

At some point in the early morning hours of Wednesday, the house Jessee was in caught fire, and it basically burned to the ground. It’s unclear what caused the fire. A body was recovered from the fire, and it’s believed to be Jessee’s.

We know little about the suspect at this point, though we’d certainly like to report more, and we feel for his friends and family who are having to pick up the pieces in the aftermath. We’d certainly welcome an opportunity to talk to anyone who knew him. He has a story as well, and these two days — even as bad as they were — didn’t tell the story of his life.

With that said, law enforcement remains a hot topic in our country, but we’ve written many times about the LPD being an example of doing it right. But even for longtime police officers, this situation was unique and something we’d assume some had not been involved in before.

This is about as tense a situation as law enforcement can find itself in, especially considering officers were shot at for hours. Thankfully, armored vehicles held up (though the suspect did disable one) and training paid off.

This incident is a reminder — if anyone needed one — of the danger law enforcement officers can find themselves in.

An internal LPD investigation and an investigation from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will tell us more details later about what went right and wrong.

And we’re sure there is plenty to learn from backtracking steps.

But no LPD officers, or any other law enforcement officers, were hurt in the standoff. Outside of the suspect, no other residents of the neighborhood were hurt, despite LPD having to ask many people to abruptly leave their homes while Jessee was armed and dangerous nearby.

And although many were mildly inconvenienced and had to find somewhere else to sleep unexpectedly, evacuating the neighborhood was worth it to ensure the safety of residents.

We’re thankful no one else was hurt. 

The mental health aspects of this situation are also hard to ignore.

We were told that a court order had been filed to initiate commitment proceedings for Jessee.

The LPD has also been at the forefront of change regarding mental health, including agreeing to an early response program earlier this year to de-escalate situations. A mental health professional was involved in talks with Jessee throughout this incident.

We’re sure this case will only lead to more mental health discussions in the future.

As tense as this situation was, we’re thankful that none of our law enforcement officers were injured, and neither were nearby residents.