'I Just Started Talking to Him': Cop Tells of Defusing Suicide in Local Hotel

Officer Theodore Plevritis, a 10-year NYPD veteran, outside the First Precinct station house in Tribeca. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Feb. 16, 2017

“He had a revolver to his head with the hammer cocked and his finger on the trigger.”

That was the chilling drama confronting Officer Theodore Plevritis and his fellow First Precinct cops as they entered the hotel room of a distraught 26-year-old man early Tuesday morning, Feb. 14.

In an interview with the Trib, Plevritis recounted the harrowing few minutes in that room, at the Sheraton Tribeca New York Hotel on Canal Street, when he talked the man into dropping the gun.

Responding to a 911 call from the man’s frantic mother in Virginia, Plevritis and his partner, Benedict Vultaggio, rushed to the hotel and, having been given the man’s room number and key by hotel staff, knocked on his door.

“He came over to the door and said, ‘Go away,’” Plevritis, a 10-year NYPD veteran, recalled. “I said, ‘It’s police. We really need to talk to you.’ He said, ‘Go away, and I heard him walking away from the door.”

At that point Plevritis opened the door with the key card. The door was latched so the officers broke through the door. Backed-up by officers Enrique Menendez and Kayla Kaiser, Plevritis and Vultaggio entered the room and saw the man sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed, the gun to his head.

“I just started talking to him,” Plevritis said. “I asked him what his name was, asked him how old he was, I asked him what was so bad that he wanted to do this. He said that everything was terrible and he was sick of it. He was coherent but he was visibly upset.”

What went through the cop’s mind as the tension-filled minutes ticked away? “It was get the gun out of his hand but keep him talking. As long as he’s engaged in conversation, hopefully he’ll concentrate on the conversation instead of anything else.”

Standing just five feet away, Plevritis said, his gun was drawn and aimed at the man. “He’s still a threat to me with the gun in his hand,” he said, “so I have to be able to protect myself as well.”

After “pretty much begging him to put the gun down,” the man laid the weapon on the floor.

“I approached and kicked the gun back towards my partner and secured him, searched him, made sure he was handcuffed,” Plevritis said. Charged with weapons possession, the man, who reportedly suffers from depression, was taken to Bellevue Hospital for assessment.  

The next morning the mother arrived at the First Precinct station to gather her son’s belongings. There, she met the officers who had responded to her call for help.

“She was extremely grateful,” Plevritis said, “and very emotional.”