Tahlequah Daily Press

March 3, 2014

Standoff in Hulbert

Man barricades himself inside trailer, finally surrenders to officers

By SEAN ROWLEY
Staff Writer

HULBERT — After a tense standoff, law enforcement officers from several agencies convinced a man to surrender after he barricaded himself inside a travel trailer northwest of Hulbert.

Michael Wyatt Earp, 43, was taken into custody after engaging in a deadlock with law enforcement that lasted about five hours.

“We received a 911 call around 10 a.m. from his family,” said Undersheriff Jason Chennault of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department. “He lives on their property in the travel trailer.”

Earp was reportedly firing an assault rifle and pouring gasoline around the trailer.

“Deputies responded to the call, but the man barricaded himself in the trailer,” Chennault said. “They backed out and called for help. Investigators were not able to make contact, and for a long time, the man would not respond.”

SWAT team members from the Tahlequah Police Department and the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service approached the trailer. Chennault said they called to Earp for about 30 minutes before he ventured out of the trailer and was taken into custody.

Earp was booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center and faces charges of arson for allegedly trying to set fire to the trailer.

“A search warrant was issued for the trailer during the standoff,” Chennault said. “The search turned up some illegal weapons, so more charges could be added.”

A neighbor told the Press he believed Earp might have been off his prescribed medication, but Chennault said there was no indication drugs were a factor in the incident.

“The interviews suggest [Earp] recently lost his job and the family was asking him to move from the trailer,” Chennault said. “I had the opportunity to speak with him and he indicated he was not on any medications or diagnosed with a mental disorder, but he was concerned he may have one. If so, hopefully he can get the help he needs.”

Both Hulbert Public Schools and Norwood School were locked down during the incident.

“I want to make it very clear that at no time were any of the schools in any danger,” Chennault said.

During the standoff, about 40 officers and agents from the CCSD, Tahlequah Police Department, the Cherokee Nation Marshal’s Service, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were on the scene.

Chennault expressed his gratitude to the agencies for the coordinated response.

“Tahlequah and the Cherokee Nation had their tactical teams there, and the ATF agents were from the Tulsa and Muskogee offices and are part of our drug task force,” he said. “The best outcome happened. No one got hurt.”

srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com