A man who drove his car into the back of the Butler Plaza Lowe’s Home Improvement store and then sawed lumber inside the store Thursday morning was subdued by Gainesville police officers after a struggle.
The man was hospitalized for an involuntary mental health evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act, said Sgt. Stephen Girard.
Police were called to the store at Butler Plaza North about 7:30 a.m. The man drove his car through hanging plastic strips at a loading door and into the back warehouse. He parked in the warehouse and went inside the store, which was open.
“He drove in through one of their big bay doors. He got out, took a circular saw out and started cutting some lumber. He threatened some of the employees,” Girard said. “We secured him and we could tell that something was mentally wrong with him. He wasn’t comprehending what was going on.”
Employees tried to stop the man but were being threatened. Once police were called, employees stood back waiting for officers to arrive rather than continuing to engage the man. Officers got to the scene in two to three minutes, Girard said.
The man struggled with police, who used the stun function on a Taser without firing the probes, to try to restrain him.
“He was very combative but I don’t think he realized what was going on — he couldn’t comprehend the orders we were giving him,” Girard said. “We had four officers there. The Taser was not used at first. The officers put their hands on him and took him down to the ground. That’s when the Taser was used and it didn’t work so they continued struggling with him until they got his arms behind his back.”
The man was evaluated by EMS and taken to a mental health facility.