Suspect in Big I standoff undergoing mental health evaluation

Posted at: 11/11/2013 8:18 AM
Updated at: 11/11/2013 2:05 PM
By: Nikki Ibarra and Elizabeth Reed, KOB Eyewitness News 4

ALBUQUERQUE -- The man involved in a seven-hour standoff with Albuquerque police remains under mental health evaluation on Monday.

Albuquerque police say Jason Kerns was parked on the flyover for hours with a gun inside his vehicle. Officers identified Kerns as the suspect on Friday, but then backed off their claim.

The incident began when police received reports of an "erratic driver" and a hit-and-run crash on Friday night. While searching for the vehicle, an officer spotted a white SUV pulled over on the I-40/I-25 flyover.

When the officer approached the SUV, police said Kerns was looking straight ahead and didn't look or talk to the officer once. He also had a gun.

It was at that point that the officer walked back to his unit and called for back-up. The stand-off lasted for seven hours into early Saturday morning.

Police said at one point, Kerns texted his lawyer, who showed up to the scene. But even that wasn't enough to get him out.

Eventually, officers used tear gas to get Kerns out of the vehicle.

Police told KOB they knew who they were dealing with all along. They ran the SUV's license plate and identified the driver as Kerns.

His family says Kerns is a former Marine who suffers from PTSD after serving as a sharpshooter in Afghanistan.

Kerns is also the man accused of shooting at a Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department helicopter in 2005. Kerns was arrested, but months later, charges were dropped because investigators couldn't link his gun to the damage on the helicopter.

Police had initially thought Kerns was involved in a hit-and-run crash before the standoff, but now say they only have reports about Kerns driving erratically.

Kerns wasn't arrested after the Big I incident. He was taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.