Abilene police assisted Merkel police early Monday in dealing with a barricaded man who was threatening law enforcement.
The man, identified as 49-year-old Garry Allyn Diltz, was transported to a Lubbock burn center after he refused to exit and a fire started in his mobile home at 306 Lamar in Merkel.
Diltz's friend Ginger Tackett said Diltz is prone to seizures and she had dropped by his mobile home Sunday night to check on him and realized he was depressed and suicidal. He told her he would take her down with her if she called police. Tackett escaped after about an hour and called 911.
"I think what disturbs me the most is that I had a person very close to me tell me, just half an hour ago, that I made a mistake--that I should have never called the law and it was his life and he had the right to do with it as he choosed," Tackett said.
A Merkel police officer and Taylor County sheriff's deputy arrived on scene around midnight. They said he pointed a gun at them twice when they tried to help and they called Abilene police for backup.
"He's a very loveable guy. He's very caring, giving, he'll do anything for you," Tackett said. "[He's] highly intelligent and the behavior I saw last night--I had never seen in him before."
Members of Abilene SWAT, negotiators and firefighters arrived on scene and obtained a search warrant by about 3:30 a.m. Monday. After negotiations failed, SWAT members fired flame less chemicals into the mobile home to try and get Diltz to surrender. They said he did not surrender and a fire broke out in the home.
According to a news release, Diltz suffered third-degree burns on more than 50 percent of his body. Tackett said authorities handled the situation correctly but is sad Diltz was injured and his home set ablaze.
The incident is being investigated by Merkel police and the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office. Additionally, representatives of the Abilene Fire Department, Merkel Volunteer Fire Department and State Fire Marshall are working to determine the cause of the fire.