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Man with gun and flag shuts US 101, then gives up|
By ERICA WERNER Associated Press Writer
SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—
A masked man waving an American flag and a revolver on a Highway 101 overpass brought traffic to a halt for more than three hours Monday before he surrendered peacefully to police.
Crisis negotiators coaxed Edward Van Tassel, 28, to give up. After dropping the weapon, Van Tassel asked for a Barack Obama campaign sign, which authorities provided and he attached to the overpass along with the flag, police said. The gun was found to be unloaded.
Van Tassel, an Iraq veteran from Santa Barbara, was taken into custody without incident, said police Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte. The sergeant said Van Tassel had been in the Army but he did not have any details of his Iraq service.
As for the man's motive, Duarte said, "The reason appears to be anti-war, but I don't know the specifics."
The freeway, which was shut down in both directions during the morning rush hour, was reopened after the arrest.
Police continued to investigate a duffel bag and the man's car at the scene but "we have no credible threats or any threats of explosives," Sgt. Jim Pfleging said.
Pfleging said the man would receive a mental health evaluation.
Van Tassel, wearing a ski mask and brown fatigues, held the flag in one hand and the gun in the other when officers arrived on the La Cumbre Avenue overpass shortly after 7 a.m. in Santa Barbara, 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
During the hours-long negotiation, a police special weapons and tactics team and a crisis negotiation team used a bullhorn to communicate with Van Tassel.
Nearly three hours into the siege, Van Tassel put the revolver down, asked for an Obama sign, which was delivered by a bomb squad robot. Van Tassel later walked backward to officers, who took him into custody shortly after 10:30 a.m. No shots were fired during the incident.
Telephone directory assistance had no listing for Van Tassel.
The freeway, a major route along the California coast, was completely shut down west of downtown Santa Barbara during the incident and the Highway Patrol reported at 10 a.m. that traffic was backed up at least three miles in each direction.
Motorists stuck on the freeway got out of their vehicles and chatted or waved at media helicopters.
The La Cumbre overpass links the exclusive Hope Ranch and La Cumbre Golf & Country Club on the south to the La Cumbre Plaza shopping mall and State Street to the northeast.