Man shot dead after opening fire near Issaquah High School

Man shot dead after opening fire near Issaquah High School »Play Video
Police guard the perimeter at the scene of the shootings.
ISSAQUAH, Wash. - A gunman was shot dead by police Saturday after he opened fire near Issaquah High School, sending passers-by fleeing in terror and throwing a junior football game into chaos, officials and witnesses said.

Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff's Office said officers had no choice but to shoot the gunman after he refused to put down his weapons and fired them at police.

Later, officers searched the gunman's abandoned vehicle on Front Street. There was no immediate word on what they had found, but traffic was being routed away from the vehicle during the search.

No one else was injured in the incident, which terrified residents of the normally quiet neighborhood and sent many of them running for cover.

Urquhart said it's a miracle that no one else was hit by the gunfire.

"There were lots of people up there, lots of kids - this could have been a lot worse," he said.

"We don't know where he was going or why he was going there," Urquhart added. "We never had a chance to negotiate with him, talk to him. He was shooting, and the officers shot back."

The man's name was not immediately released. He was 51 years old, Urquhart said.

Urquhart said the first gunshots broke out at about 11:20 a.m. and the 911 dispatch center was immediately flooded by 911 calls.

Witnesses told police that a gunman had abandoned his vehicle in the middle of the street and walking along armed with two firearms. At least one of them was a bolt-action hunting rifle.

The man started making his way on foot toward Clark Elementary School, about a half-mile away, pointing his guns at people and occasionally stopping to fire as he made his way along.

Meanwhile, police responding to the disturbance ran onto the football field at nearby Issaquah High School with guns drawn and quickly hustled about 120 team members and fans to a safer position beneath the bleachers, where they hunkered down, witnesses told KOMO News. None of them were hurt.

"A SWAT team showed up on site, fully loaded, fully geared up, just racing onto the field," said John Rudolph, a coach on the opposing team who was at the junior varsity football game.

Other people on the street fled in panic as they heard gunshots and saw the armed man firing shots.

Witnesses said they heard about 20 shots fired, but police still haven't confirmed how many times the man fired his weapons. A shooting range is located nearby and there was some speculation that witnesses may have heard gunfire from that direction as well.

A woman who was walking nearby with her baby said she heard the shots fired, and started running.

"We heard 'bang-bang-bang' and then 'bang-bang-bang' a bunch more times, and then we started running down the hill and a lady in a Suburban said, 'Get in the car, get in the car,' and she brought us here," said the woman, Lindsey Schumacher.

She said being there amid the gunfire with a baby was "more scary than anything in the world."

"We were running from guns. That's not supposed to happen in Issaquah," she said.

"It was so close. It was like you didn't really think it could be gunfire right behind you," said another woman who was there, Dawn Hill.

Another woman, Tanya Collins, said she saw the man pointing his weapon at a woman and her son as she was sitting in her car in a parking lot near the high school.

"It was surreal," she said. "He had a very weird look, obviously. ... I had the sense he could shoot me."

The gunman's movements were monitored by a police helicopter at the scene, and officers caught up with him as he neared Clark Elementary School, Urquhart said.

Police cornered the man, and he turned and started firing several shots. Issaquah police officers shot back and the man died at the scene.

Urquhart said the officer-involved shooting will be investigated by the King County Sheriff's Office at the request of the Issaquah police force.