Negotiations fail, man takes his own life - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Negotiations fail, man takes his own life

June 4, 2007

Albany --  APD confirms that 32-year-old Matthew Thomas is dead by his own hand after he refused to end his hold-out inside a home on Station Crossing Road this afternoon.

The standoff ended tragically after Thomas refused to come out. Police and members of his family tried to get him to surrender, and thought they were making progress in their negotiations. A single gunshot was heard shortly after 3:00PM, and EMTs were summoned.

Albany Police apparently thought they had the situation under control. They didn't ask the SWAT team to assist.

They said they knew Matthew Thomas because he frequently had run-ins with the law. In fact, he has a list of convictions from robbery to theft to forgery. APD apparently thought they could talk him out, but that didn't happen.

Neighbors say some friction started yesterday between Thomas and Yolanda Harris, who also lived in the house. We are told that some children may live at the address as well.

APD Chief James Younger told us that negotiators did all they could, even bringing in Thomas' mother and father, and thought they had made real progress. "It is very difficult for the negotiators, especially after spending a certain amount of time with the person that they're talking to. They feel that they've built up a rapport, they felt that theyre were making progress."

Thomas went into a back room and shot himself, with his father still inside the house. Family members were visibly upset on the scene. His brother was seen crying and pumping his fist in the air.

Neighbors say they were upset, because police had been called out to the house Sunday to mediate a similar argument between Thomas and Yolanda Harris, who also live there. They say the situation wasn't resolved Sunday, and frictions carried over to Monday, and led to the suicide.

Police said that two negotiators were on scene, as well as several officer, who knew Thomas from Neighborhood Watch Programs, and they thought they could defuse the situation