Winter weather hampers standoff with police Wednesday in Hays
By MIKE CORN
A 53-year-old Hays man is in police custody after he was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm Wednesday evening following a 3.5 hour standoff with the Hays Police Department's Special Situation and Response Team.
The situation was complicated by rapidly falling temperatures and the onset of blizzard conditions that all but paralyzed much of northwest Kansas.
Members of the HPD had attempted to negotiate with Bobby Gerald Nix, who reportedly pointed a .22-caliber rifle at a family member, the incident that prompted the standoff, according to Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler.
The report of the disturbance first was called in at approximately 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, with the SSRT called in after patrolmen had set up a perimeter around a house at 407 W. Fourth.
"We did attempt to evacuate some people in the area," Scheibler said, after the police department set up its command post in a parking area near Lewis Field.
Nix reportedly had gone outside the house -- converted to a four-plex -- and pointed the rifle at a family member as he was fleeing from the property. Nix then went back in the house, Scheibler said.
"We attempted to negotiate with Mr. Nix," Scheibler said. "We were unable to get him to surrender."
While Nix apparently came out of the apartment on several occasions to smoke on a balcony, he never brandished the weapon again, Scheibler said.
It was during one of those excursions outside when the SSRT set off a flash-bang device in the front yard of the residence, distracting Nix so officers were able to wrestle him to the ground and take him into custody.
"He resisted arrest and had to be taken into custody," Scheibler said.
Neither he nor any of the officers involved in the scuffle were injured, although another officer suffered a slight cut on his hand from a broken window.
An ambulance was called to the scene, but Nix declined medical attention, Scheibler said.
Scheibler said the SSRT commander had contacted the landlord, and arrangements had been made for the team to enter an adjoining apartment on the upper floor of the residence.
As the standoff dragged on and weather conditions deteriorated, Scheibler called the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and asked for its SWAT team to relieve the Hays team.
He said the KBI negotiator only had been on the scene for approximately 20 minutes when Nix was taken into custody.
As the situation unfolded, the Fort Hays State University Police Department issued an alert of a potentially dangerous situation in the area.
Some residents of Stadium Place Apartments were evacuated, and children from the Hays Area Children's Center were allowed to leave.
"I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood," Scheibler said.
While he said the children's center was part of the neighborhood, it never was a focus of the standoff.
It was the weather, however, that proved to be the greatest barrier, and the reason the KBI's team was called in.
While Scheibler expressed thanks to assisting agencies, such as the Hays Fire Department for the ladder allowing SSRT members to enter the adjoining apartment, and the public works department for barricades, he even cited the Ellis County Red Cross.
"They brought us sandwiches and hot coffee," he said. "I was grateful for it."