Former Marine was discharged prior to Orlando airport standoff

Michael Pettigrew cut corporal with knife, records show

ORLANDO, Fla. – A man accused of threatening himself and officers Tuesday evening with a simulated firearm at Orlando International Airport was discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps after stabbing a corporal with a knife, documents show.

Orlando police Chief John Mina said standoff suspect Michael Wayne Pettigrew, 26, served in the Marines from 2009-2012. Crisis negotiators spoke with Pettigrew for more than two hours on Tuesday before he peacefully surrendered at 10:01 p.m. 

Pettigrew, then a lance corporal, used a knife on July 24, 2011 to cut a corporal on the face and arm while he was stationed at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California, documents show. He also threatened another lance corporal, telling him, "Say one more (expletive) word."

Pettigrew was tried and found guilty on Oct. 6, 2011. His sentence of a bad conduct discharge, confinement for seven months and reduction to pay grade E-1 was approved on Jan. 6, 2012.

Before Tuesday's standoff, a friend of Pettigrew's who lives in Pennsylvania called the Orlando Police Department and told them that Pettigrew had texted him at 7:13 p.m. and said he was going to take a gun to the airport.

[LISTEN BELOW: Friend of suspect calls 911 to warn police]

The man said Pettigrew didn't want to harm anyone, he just "wanted to have a cop shoot him."

"I know he's got some anger issues. He was in the military, he was in the Marines," the man told an operator.

Mina said Tuesday night that responding officers quickly realized that Pettigrew was having a mental health crisis and chose not to shoot him even after he pointed his simulated firearm, designed to look like a pistol, at an officer.

"The subject made several comments, pointed the firearm at the officers said, 'Shoot me, shoot me,' actually pointed the gun at his head, imploring the officers to shoot him," Mina said.

Lt. Jim Young said that during conversation Pettigrew had with the crisis negotiation team mostly stemmed around getting him to calm down and to keep the gun out of reach.

"That conversation – in a lot of these negotiations, their emotions are running high. In this case, it was clear he wasn't in the right mental state," Young said. 

Young didn't provide specifics on why Pettigrew set out to commit suicide by cop.

"He was just upset about a lot of things going on in his life; a lot of it will be discussed with mental health counselors down the road," Young said. 

Pettigrew was taken to a hospital to be held under the Baker Act after his arrest. He has since been booked into the Orange County Jail on an aggravated assault charge.


Mina said he believes Pettigrew has been committed to a mental health institution in the past and Orlando police have dealt with him before for "some type of medical crisis."

About the Author: