Cell Phone User Sparks Suicide Scare

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Police responded to a possible suicidal subject on the Back Bay trail Tuesday evening after receiving several calls from citizens claiming they saw a man with a gun to his head.

Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) officers responded at about 6 p.m. to Back Bay trail, near University and Campus drives. Several people thought the man might commit suicide, NBPD Sgt. Steve Burdette said.

It was discovered to be a false alarm within 10 minutes, Burdette said.

“Police quickly determined it was a cell phone,” Burdette said. “The man said he kept it away from his head to keep the radiation out.”

When police arrived on the scene several people were pointing to where the man was located, Burdette said. Officers approached him and explained why they were there. He told police he did not have any guns on him and explained that he was just talking on a cell phone but kept it away from his face so the radiation would not get into his head.

Streets weren’t shut down, Burdette said, but traffic may have had to go around the police vehicles. One witness said she saw a helicopter, but Burdette could not confirm that the NBPD chopper responded.

“The whole (incident) went by so fast,” he added.

Citizens are encouraged to call in if they see anything suspicious or something that could be a possible threat, Burdette said. Sometimes it ends up being nothing, he added, but residents should always call just to be sure.

Police can then go out and determine if it’s a threat or safety hazard, he said.

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