Lapwai, Idaho – An eleven hour standoff between Nez Perce Tribal Police and an armed individual ended on Sunday when Michael Eli Wilson, Jr. peacefully surrendered to police. Mr. Wilson, a 28-year-old Nez Perce Tribal member, had bunkered down in a vehicle with a weapon in a field adjacent to U.S. Highway 95 and Tom Beall. The incident occurred in the early morning hours on January 21, 2018, after Wilson was pulled over by Tribal police who were responding to a report of a trespass and altercation at a residence in Lapwai at approximately 1:38 a.m.
While responding to the initial call, Tribal police witnessed an individual entering a parked vehicle near the location of the reported incident. Officers followed the blue, full-size SUV as it pulled onto Highway 95. Officers initiated emergency lights and the vehicle turned off of Highway 95 onto Tom Beall road, and then into an open field near the road. After additional officers arrived on scene, two officers approached the vehicle, one on each side. One officer quickly noticed the individual sitting in the backseat with a scoped rifle. The officers retreated to their vehicles and took defensive positioning.
Although officers were giving commands, using the vehicle PA system instructing the suspect to drop his weapon, the suspect began acting in an erratic manner and public safety became the primary concern. Additional forces arrived and assisted in providing cover and containment, as well as perimeter and traffic control. A portion of Highway 95 was blocked off for safety reasons, and vehicles were re-routed. “We understand that having a major artery like Highway 95 closed is a great inconvenience to the travelling public but we believed it was the best way to ensure nobody was harmed during the incident,” stated Harold Scott, Chief of the Nez Perce Tribal Police Department.
Officers were eventually able to toss a phone to the subject to enable more direct communication. After eleven hours, Wilson exited the vehicle and surrendered peacefully. He was taken into custody and transported to Nez Perce County Jail where he was booked on charges of Eluding a Police Officer, Driving without Privileges, Battery, Resisting/ Obstructing a Police Officer, and a Weapons Violation. Following the arrest, officers collected a Remington 223 Rifle with adjustable scope, and rounds of ammunition.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Nez Perce County Sheriff, Lewiston Police Department, Lewis County Sheriff, and the Idaho State Police all assisted with the incident. “It was a cooperative effort among all entities and we appreciate the assistance area law enforcement provided during the incident. Everyone demonstrated patience and understanding for the individual and the surrounding community,” continued Scott. “With no casualties, I consider this a win. The officers and the suspect left the scene unharmed and it was the best outcome we could ask for in this type of situation.”