MCSO: Negotiators detail intense and emotional moments during Saraland standoff

A tense standoff came to a peaceful end Friday night in Saraland.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 10:32 PM CDT
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SARALAND, Ala. (WALA) - For the first time, we’re hearing from the negotiators who brought a tense standoff to a peaceful end Friday night in Saraland.

A man fired shots from inside his house for hours, threatening to blow up the place if anyone dared to come in.

FOX 10 News exclusively sat down with the negotiators to get their first-hand account.

Corporal Lonnie Parsons and Lieutenant John Spivey describe it as an emotional experience.

Lt. Spivey says trying to reason with someone in such an agitated state, is difficult, especially when lives are on the line.

“To have somebody that’s sick and is so close to dying and to get him out, safely, it is an emotional experience,” Lt. Spivey said.

Gunfire erupted several times throughout the night on Friday.

The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office was called out to a home on Cleveland Road, serving a probate pickup on Christopher Cavette.

Cavette refused to leave.

“He made it very clear he was not coming out,” Lt. Spivey said. “He didn’t understand why we were there he was convinced that we were there to evict him and later that we were going to put him in jail.”

That’s when the negotiations started...

Detectives say Cavette was paranoid and intoxicated with a loaded rifle.

Corporal Lonnie Parsons didn’t know he would be spending the next eight hours to get Cavette to put the gun down and surrender.

“You first want to try to understand where they’re coming from. They’re upset and they’re agitated for a reason,” Cpl. Parsons said. “So you have to first understand what’s their points, try to reason with them, and say that you can understand where they’re coming from.”

Cavette didn’t make it easy for the negotiators, firing several shots for hours.

Deputies countered with more than 40 canisters of tear gas shot into the home.

While FOX 10 News was interviewing Sheriff Paul Burch, he had to pull our crews to safety because of the gunfire.

As time passed Corporal Parsons knew Cavette was becoming more of a danger to not only himself but everyone around him.

‘I didn’t want my house to be shot up’; witness describes hourslong standoff in Saraland

Cavette told Parsons he poured gasoline throughout his house and was sitting on a propane tank ready to fire.

Exhausted with nothing left, Parsons says Cavette surrendered shortly after 10 o’clock.

Raw emotion followed as the negotiators hugged each other knowing they saved more than just one life.

“You in that moment hold everybody’s lives in your’s draining but it’s the most rewarding experience,” Cpl. Parsons said. “We worked as one unit to help Mr. Cavette come out of that house and receive the treatment he desperately needed.”

Lt. Spivey echoed those comments.

“To suffer the discomfort that he did because he was too afraid to come out is not normal, he’s ill,” Lt. Spivey said. “Somebody should not die for being sick.”

As for Cavette, he’s currently undergoing mental health treatment.

It’s unclear what charges he may face.

If you or someone you know needs help, here’s a simple number to remember, 988.

That number directs you to the suicide and crisis lifeline.