SEATTLE (AP) — A Washington state police officer responding to a domestic violence call was fatally shot and his fellow officers were still “taking fire” as they removed him from a home, beginning an 11-hour standoff during which authorities say the gunman used two young children as human shields.
Dozens of officers surrounded the home in Tacoma on Wednesday night, urging nearby residents of the working class neighborhood of single-family homes to shelter in place.
Early Thursday, authorities say a deputy got “a clear shot” and killed the man as officers rescued an 8-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy.
Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said the gunman had refused to surrender during negotiations. His name was not released.
“We were able to get the suspect cornered and trapped, even though he had two kids,” Troyer said. “We had a SWAT member who had a clear shot. We fired one round, which struck him.”
Police released few other details about the standoff and the treatment of the children.
Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool described the hectic scene that led to the standoff.
“We had an officer down and shots still firing at the time,” Cool said. Police managed to get the officer out “but they were still taking fire,” she said.
Officers didn’t immediately know there were children in the house and became aware of their presence during the standoff, she said.
“When they were able to rescue the boy, there was an opening to rescue the girl,” Cool said. “That provoked the shot to take the suspect out.”
Authorities discovered multiple weapons inside the house.
Kristi Croskey, who rented the house to the suspect and his wife, was inside the home at the time and barricaded herself in the bathroom before she was able to escape, KOMO-TV reported.
She said police came to the residence because the suspect was fighting with his wife and refused to let her back inside.
“They said they just wanted to talk to him and then gunfire started, they didn’t start it,” Croskey told the station.
Reacting to the shots fired, officers entered the home and managed to get the wounded officer outside and to a hospital, Cool said.
The officer, who was not identified, died Wednesday night after undergoing surgery.
“We’ve suffered a great loss and I think the community has suffered a great loss. I don’t know how to put that into words,” Cool said.
A procession of law enforcement officers escorted the officer’s body from the hospital to the county medical examiner’s office.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said “all of Washington grieves with Tacoma, which tonight lost one of their finest.”
The shooting remains under investigation by multiple agencies, including the FBI and the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, which will review material to be sure that the police followed their policies in responding to the incident.