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Former Marine tied to SWAT standoff

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A former Marine marksman with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder was identified by police as the man responsible for an eight-hour long SWAT standoff at the Big I that ended Saturday morning.

Albuquerque police said Jason Kerns, 37, fled the scene of a crash on southbound Interstate 25 north of the Big I in a Hummer sport-utility vehicle around 7:30 p.m. Friday, and a police officer pulled him over on the south-to-east flyover ramp a half-hour later.

Kerns showed the officer a gun after he was stopped, according to Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Daren DeAguero, prompting police to call in a SWAT team and close the flyover, as well as eastbound I-40 from Second Street to University Boulevard.

APD spokesman Simon Drobik said after negotiations, Kerns was taken from the vehicle around 4 a.m. Saturday and didn’t say anything to police or his lawyer, so he was transported to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation.

“There wasn’t even an interview,” Drobik said.

Kerns spent eight months in jail from 2005 to 2006 after pleading not guilty to shooting at a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office helicopter and seriously injuring the pilot in 2005. The charges were dropped in 2006 when bullet casings from the crash site didn’t match Kerns’ rifle. In 2007, Kerns filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against former Sheriff Darren White and officers claiming that Kerns was falsely detained while officers withheld evidence from the court. The lawsuit is ongoing.

Kerns suffers from PTSD, a spinal cord injury and depression, according to a 2006 Journal story.

Drobik said it’s standard practice to send suspects for a psychiatric evaluation when they don’t openly try to harm an officer or the public.

Drobik said Kerns could be charged in connection to the vehicle crash that sparked the standoff, but currently he faces no charges.

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