Vaping saved the day in a small California city last weekend, as police were able to convince an arson suspect in a six-hour standoff to surrender in exchange for delivering him a vape.
Juan Roman spilled gasoline on the floor of a convenience store and threatened to burn the store down after having some issues with the gas pump. Security video at the store shows the 40-year-old Roman then grabbing a lighter from the store counter, lighting some paper on fire and throwing the paper on the floor.
The floor didn’t ignite, and Roman took off to another gas station where the police found him in his truck. Believing the man to be armed, police let him remain in the vehicle while they spoke with him. He threatened to harm himself and others, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
Police surrounded the man’s truck, and believed they could see a rifle inside. After several hours, a police robot delivered a cell phone to Roman so negotiators could better communicate with him. According to the Sacramento Bee, the disturbed man told police he wanted a cigarette, and would be willing to surrender if he got one.
“If we can do something that won’t make the situation more difficult, either deliver food, or water, or cigarettes, if that helps end the situation peacefully, we make that happen,” a Novato Police official told a local TV station, according to the Bee.
But police were concerned that the suspect had spilled gasoline on himself earlier, and didn’t want to risk giving him cigarettes. So negotiators offered a compromise: they would give him a vape pen if he would turn himself in. He agreed, and the police robot delivered the vape to Roman’s truck.
After getting the e-cigarette, the man exited the truck and was arrested. Roman was charged with suspicion of attempted arson and vandalism. A search of his vehicle turned up no firearms.
The incident happened in Novato, a city of 52,000 in Marin County, about 30 miles north of San Francisco. The suspect is a Novato resident, and has a history of incidents with the police.