Families of victims in shooting rampage sue state

Families of victims in shooting rampage sue state »Play Video
In a 2009 file photo, Isaac Zamora is escorted from Skagit County Superior Court.
SEATTLE -- Isaac Zamora may be behind bars for the rest of his life, but he may not be the only one held responsible in his killing rampage that left six dead.

His victims' families say the Department of Corrections dropped the ball, and now the DOC says someone else is to blame.

The claim, filed Wednesday on the three-year anniversary of the shootings, says the state and Okanogan County let Zamora slip through the cracks by not getting him the help he needed, and now the state wants Skagit County held responsible.

One man just wants to escape the memory.

Fred Binschus still hears the silence after the last gunshot that killed his wife. "I just laid there and bawled like a baby; I knew she was gone," he said. "She was my partner, my lover, my life."

Her killer will spend the rest of his life in mental hospitals or prison. But a claim filed by Zamora's victims' families says the system that now confines him could have stopped his murderous rampage.

"They need to be held accountable," Binschus said. "They knew he was crazy."

The families claim the DOC "utterly failed to fulfill its obligation," by "allowing him to remain free in a homicidal and psychotic state without a court-ordered mental health evaluation and treatment plan."

The claim also accuses the DOC of mis-classifying Zamora as low risk, losing track of him in transfer, and alleges the community corrections officer assigned to Zamora failed a slew of duties that proved critical.

But the DOC points the finger at Skagit County, suggesting the sheriff's office had access to information from Zamora's family and friends about his mental instability in the weeks leading up to the rampage, and that the county was negligent in the way it responded to the 911 call when Zamora exploded through a rural neighborhood and sped down I-5, killing a deputy and five other people.

"No amount of money is going to bring Julie back," Binschus said.

The DOC won't comment on the case. Messages left with Skagit County seeking comment were not returned.

The case is expected to go to trial within about a year.