BERWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A grieving father is questioning the handling of a standoff situation in Berwick that led to his son's death.
Twenty-five-year-old Jared Greenlaw took his own life earlier this month, after barricading himself inside his home. Greenlaw's father says he could have convinced his son to come out peacefully but was never given the chance.
Tom Greenlaw says his son was a proud Marine veteran, who had never been in trouble before this. He says police could have done more to try to save him.
"His life could have been saved and should have been saved," he said.
The situation began at the Trackside Taco restaurant in Somersworth, New Hampshire, on the night of April 7, when Jared Greenlaw went to talk with an employee he had dated. The woman felt uncomfortable and called another man to intervene. He and Greenlaw got into a confrontation and Greenlaw fired a gun. No one was hurt.
The next day, when police arrived at his home, Greenlaw refused to come out. His father says he told state police he would be able to get him out safely, but they refused to let him speak with his son. Police then cut off all communication between Jared Greenlaw and his family.
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"You have a duty to save that person's life – to do what you can," Tom Greenlaw said. "And if that meant allowing someone else to be involved in it, somebody that knew him better than you did, then you had a responsibility to him, to let us talk to him."
"Maine State police are not responsible for this young man's death," said Public Safety Spokesperson Steve McCausland.
McCausland says while family members have good intentions, they can sometimes make the situation worse. Only the negotiator is allowed to speak directly with the person.
"Once that begins, we do not allow other parties to be involved in the communication," he said. "This is a standard police procedure used all over the nation."
McCausland says they would have allowed Greenlaw to tape a message that they would have played over a PA, but they never established direct communication with his son.
Tom Greenlaw is now calling on Gov. Paul LePage to conduct an inquiry into the events of that day.
"We're proud Mainers. We've represented the state of Maine well, we've represented our community well," he said. "Our communities valued my son's life, I think I deserve that."
Greenlaw now lives in South Carolina but says he plans to spend several weeks here in June and he'd like to meet with Gov. LePage during that time.
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