A drug suspect who managed to sneak a handgun into the back of a Colorado sheriff deputy's cruiser shot and killed himself after an hours-long standoff, authorities said.
The 33-year-old man, whose identity has not yet been released, was first taken into custody Tuesday shortly before 2:45 p.m. local time (4:45 p.m. ET) on a warrant that was erroneously in the department's system, El Paso County Sheriff's Department Director of Information Jacqueline Kirby told NBC News.
Upon stopping the man, the sheriff's deputy, whose identity was also being concealed pending an investigation of the incident, arrested the man for possession of methamphetamine discovered during a pat down of the suspect.
"We miss dangerous objects. That's the nature of the game," El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder told NBC station KOAA. "This is not one of those instances that we would put them on leave."
The deputy placed the man in her cruiser and began transporting him. That's when the suspect was able to maneuver his cuffed hands from behind his back to the front of his body, at which point the deputy saw him holding a gun to his head and threatening to commit suicide, Kirby said.
The deputy fled the vehicle and radioed for backup, setting off an hours-long standoff with the suspect. The sheriff's deputy kept eyes on the suspect until help could arrive out of fear he would shoot her or himself, Kirby said.
For several hours the authorities were only able to speak to the suspect via the sheriff's cruiser's radio, but unable to hear back from him, as he was locked in the back seat of the cruiser. Around 6 p.m. a robot delivered a cell phone to the man, and a Spanish speaking translator helped a crisis negotiator communicate with the suspect.
But around 7:20 p.m. local time (10:20 p.m. ET), the man shot himself once in the head. An emergency medical team immediately came to the man's aid. He was transported alive to an area hospital, but was later pronounced dead.
"It is with great sadness we report the suicidal suspect who was transported to the hospital via AMR with a self inflicted gunshot has succumbed to his wounds," El Paso County Sheriff's Department said on its Facebook page. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this very difficult time."
Kirby said the department and the Colorado Springs Police Department will both investigate the series of events that led up to the suicide, including how the man was able to get a loaded gun past the sheriff's deputy and how an erroneous warrant for his arrest remained in the county's system despite an arrest weeks earlier on that warrant.