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SWAT Team responds to home of embattled VA administrator

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Brad Curry Brad Curry
MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

One of the top administrators at the center of the scandal surrounding the Phoenix VA Medical Center became the center of a Mesa police SWAT response after family members called 911 claiming he was suicidal.

According to Mesa police, Ashley Lambson called 911 the late afternoon of July 10 and told them that her dad, Brad Curry, was going through a difficult time and was threatening suicide.

Curry is one of three Phoenix VA administrators in the process of being fired for their part in the scandal surrounding long wait times, secret lists and a cover-up at the VA. He and two other VA leaders were put on administrative paid leave May 1. They have yet to be formally terminated.  

Lambson, who lives directly across the street from her parents, told the 911 operator that her mom came over to her house and said that her father was trying to kill himself. 

On the 911 call, you can hear Curry's wife in the background crying and upset as she prompted Lambson about the situation with Curry.

When the operator asked if Curry had any weapons in the house, Lambson said he had multiple rifles and guns. When asked if Curry had any guns out when his wife left to run across the street to Lambson's house, the operator was told that he had some kind of a gun out.

Police responded in force. More than a dozen officers and SWAT team members closed down the residential street near Brown Road and Ellsworth Road. The commotion quickly drew the attention of neighbors, who came out of their homes to see what was going on.

"Another neighbor called me concerned about what was going on in the neighborhood. He told me there was 14 to 17 SWAT members close here to our home," said one neighbor who asked not to be identified. He went on to say the SWAT team was yelling at the Curry house with a bullhorn and giving orders to come out of the home. 

According to the police report, Curry initially walked out to the street as told but then he became uncooperative and upset with police. Police indicate that Curry's upset became escalated and he was yelling at police while starting to walk back into his home. 

Police, knowing Curry had weapons in the home and fearing a barricade situation, fired three rounds from a bean bag less lethal weapon. The report indicates two struck Curry, with no effect. Another officer got close enough to deploy his stun gun. Only one probe made contact with Curry, and while the stun gun had no effect, Curry then began to cooperate.

Curry was cuffed and brought inside his home where paramedics were called to check him over.

Neighbors say the ordeal lasted about three hours. They were stunned when police cleared the scene and Curry was seen driving away in his personal car.

"After all this, and all the cops here, taking him down, handcuffing him and the whole neighborhood wondering if he's dead or alive and all this stuff going on and he drives away in his car? That's a big concern," said the neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous. 

At least two neighbors who spoke with CBS 5 News believe police should have taken Curry in for a psychological evaluation and should have seized his weapons for the safety of himself and others.

According to the police report, when the incident ended and they interviewed Curry's wife, she told them that at one point her husband did retrieve a pistol. Karen Curry told officers that her husband slammed his hand against the wall with the pistol in his hand. That's when she said she grabbed their grandchild and her husband told them to get out of the room.

Mesa police said they do not comment on suicide, suicide threats or suicide attempts. But according to their report, and in direct contrast to what was said during the 911 call, Karen Curry told police that her husband never made any verbal threats to hurt himself or anybody else.

The police report indicated that Brad Curry refused any counseling services and denied that he had any intention of hurting himself. The report states that there was no evidence of direct threats and no family members witnessed any acts to support a mental health detainer petition.

Neighbors expressed concern that the situation may escalate in the future and put their families at risk.

"They should have put him in a squad car and took him for evaluation. That's the minimum they should have done. They should have pulled the weapons. It's a big concern for the whole neighborhood," said the neighbor.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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