Negotiators tried to appeal to suspect’s emotions before Austin hostage standoff ended


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Before Austin police discovered the bodies of Dr. Bharat Narumanchi and Dr. Lindley Dodson inside Children’s Medical Group, officers worked for hours to negotiate with Narumanchi and free hostages.

Throughout Tuesday night, negotiators could be heard pleading with Narumanchi, offering to help him get medical attention while also talking about his dogs and profession.

A negotiator can be heard saying, “We want to make sure that you get the care that you need,” around 10:30 p.m.

“Your sisters are here and they’re worried about you, I’m worried about you,” added the negotiator.

Security expert R. Kent Morrison said appealing to a suspect’s emotions is often negotiators’ best chance to make a connection.

“They’re trying to personalize the connection with the individual that they’re speaking with,” Morrison said. “The more personal they can make that connection, the more likely they are to develop that rapport that is going to hopefully lead them to a place where they can diffuse that situation peacefully.”

When the SWAT team first arrived it worked to secure a perimeter and get as many hostages out safely as possible.

“Their first priority with any police response is going to be preservation of life, everyone’s life,” Morrison said.

After several hours of being unable to communicate with Narumanchi, loud bangs were heard from inside the building. Austin police sent in a state-of-the-art robot equipped with five cameras that have infrared and thermal-imaging capabilities.

The robot is able to climb stairs and move a retractable arm, with all of the technology controlled by an Xbox-style controller.

Austin police acquired the $300,000 robot in 2018.

The robot was able to identify Dodson, and at that point the SWAT team went in.

“If they get to the point, however long that may take, where the scene commander decides negotiations have failed to the point to where we don’t believe we can recover them, then yeah, the SWAT team is going to take that step of going in dynamically,” Morrison said.

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