Columbia police officer Steven Rios was talked down from a parking garage ledge on the MU campus Friday night after escaping from protective custody across the street at a mental health center.
Columbia police Capt. Zim Schwartze said officers believed Rios intended to harm himself by jumping from the roof of the five-story garage. Rios, 27, escaped from the Mid-Missouri Mental Health Center; Schwartze said police were notified at 7:17 p.m. He ran west from the facility and ran to the top of the nearby Maryland Avenue garage, Schwartze said.
Schwartze did not say how Rios escaped. He was be turned back over to the Mental Health Center and placed under extra guard, Schwartze said.
"He is obviously very distraught," Schwartze said at an impromptu news conference outside the garage. "He has a lot of personal issues going on."
Rios was secured about 9:10 p.m. after stepping down on his own. Schwartze said Columbia police worked with MU police and the Columbia Fire Department. The parking garage is on MU property.
Rios had been placed in protective custody Thursday night after threatening to harm himself with a shotgun. He was put on personal leave earlier in the week after investigators learned of Rios' relationship with homicide victim Jesse Valencia. On Friday, police Chief Randy Boehm changed his status to administrative leave.
Valencia was found dead last Saturday in a yard on Wilson Avenue about a half-block from his apartment. His throat was cut.
Rios did not say anything about the homicide investigation during the Friday evening negotiations, Schwartze said. There was a family member on the scene -- not Rios' wife -- who was helping with the negotiations, she said.
Schwartze said eight to 10 people were on the roof at any time aiding in the intervention. She said the ordeal was particularly stressful given that Rios is a colleague.
"You can only imagine if it happened to someone in your profession," Schwartze said.
Rios could be seen standing on the ledge as members of the Crisis Negotiation Team spoke to him. Police officers from Rios' East District were on hand near the top of the parking garage stairs.