The family of a Bettendorf businessman is speaking out about the handling of a stand-off that ended in suicide, and says on the day Rick Gless shot and killed himself, he had lost his business and his wife.
“He had just gotten his divorce papers that morning and I think that’s what set him off,” said his sister, Deborah Gless Wheeler, of Davenport.
Wheeler says police were dispatched to Gless’s house on Joshua Drive in Bettendorf on Wednesday, after he threatened another sister with one of the many guns he owned.
“My little sister was living there at the time, she was concerned about his mental welfare and she didn’t know what else to do but call the police for help,” Wheeler said.
“I know he had a .44 Magnum, a .45 automatic, an AR-15, and various other rifles, and a lot of ammo,” Wheeler said. “He was a gun collector, a pseudo ‘prepper,’ I guess he was saving up in case something went wrong with our monetary system,” she said.
SWAT teams surrounded the house Wednesday, the street shut down. After a three-hour stand-off, police declared the situation over, and left the scene.
Within an hour, he shot himself in front of a friend.
“They left him. They just left. Maybe he’d be alive if they didn’t,” Wheeler said.
“I’ve never, ever heard of the police leaving with the subject still in question. Even if he were just arrested on something simple, they could have held him for 24 hours until they could have gotten him some help. There’s a million other ways this could have been resolved, and its quite disturbing to me,” she said.
The friend who witnessed the shooting, Carly Mathias, says that during the stand-off, she was detained at a police checkpoint and told Gless would be arrested for threatening his younger sister.
“I don’t see why they just left. The officer told me he was going to arrest him, because he held a gun up to somebody,” Mathias said.
“He said we aren’t leaving until we make an arrest because he held a gun up to somebody and he’s dangerous, so I thought they were gonna arrest him,” she said.
Police say they obviously took the situation seriously, but say Gless refused to come out of his house, and officers couldn’t legally enter his home.
“Were you going to bust through his own house, when he hasn’t done anything wrong, to take him into custody? Under these set of circumstances, I don’t think that would have been good for him,” said Bettendorf Police Chief Phil Redington.
Wheeler says her brother suffered from depression, and she doesn’t blame police for his death, because hindsight is twenty-twenty, but wishes the situation had been handled differently.
“I don’t know. Did they have a police negotiator on site, a police psychologist? I think if they would have let my husband talk to him, he could have gotten him to come out. He was really distraught. Maybe it can prevent one other person from police walking away from them. That would be good for me.”