Florida police threatened with Viking-style ax

Posted at 9:57 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-27 08:09:52-04

A Tampa Bay-area man is in jail after three police officers were threatened with a Viking-style battle ax.

Stanley Tonkin, 42, of Redington Shores, Fla., was arrested Sunday at his home on Gulf Boulevard.

Officer with the Indian Shores Police Department arrived there in response to a domestic violence situation. They found Tonkin had locked himself in the home while his wife was outside.

Police kicked in the door and found Tonkin with the ax yelling, "Come on Valhalla." Valhalla is known in Norse mythology as a type of heaven for warriors.

"They [the officers] could have fired their firearm," Chief Terry Hughes said. "They could have used deadly force. The ax, we were led to believe it was just decorative. It's decorative, but it's a real ax. It's got a steel blade."

The arrest report says Tonkin was in a battle stance.

"He was holding it like a baseball player would a bat," Hughes said.

Police said officers were about eight feet away from Tonkin. One officer had a gun drawn, the other two had drawn their stun guns.

"The corporal made the decision not to shoot him and told the officer to [stun] him," Hughes said.

WFTS-TV spoke with Tonkin's wife, who gave conflicting statements about the incident.

At first, she said Tonkin hit her in the head with a cellphone during an argument, prompting her to call police. She later said there was no violence, and she called police because she was scared her husband would harm himself.

But she was consistent in describing a concern about her husband's mental health. She says he suffers from several mental disorders and was mixing alcohol with medication, a story backed up by police. She believes her husband was confused and out of touch with reality during the entire ordeal.

"He didn't know where he was. He was talking about going to heaven. He thought someone was coming to kill him. He really didn't understand what was going on," Stacey Tonkin said.

She says her husband has mental health issues that go back more than a decade. He spent 10 years in prison for shooting a gun into a home. He was released two years ago.  

Stacey Tonkin said her husband has never received the mental health treatment he needed while in prison.

She thinks he should have been taken into custody under the Baker Act instead of being charged as a criminal.

Regardless, Tonkin is lucky those officers held their fire.

"They would have been justified to use deadly force," Hughes said.