HOQUIAM, Wash. - For the first time we are hearing the inside details about the police gun battle that took place inside a cramped Hoquiam home last March.
Sgt. Jeff Salstrom was hit three times during the intense, real-life drama and hasn't talked publicly about it until now.
The incident started out as a routine arrest inside the house for real estate fraud. Instead, it led to a 20-hour-standoff, with the suspect losing his life in a confrontation with the SWAT team after the place burst into flames.
Video from a police robot camera shows a shadowy figure in a gas mask hood. Police say it's Rick Marlowe, also known as Ray Mahailovich. He had held them at bay for 20 hours.
It all started when Marlowe traded fire at close range with Salstrom.
"He shot me in the hip right here," said Salstrom in an exclusive interview. He went on to say, "My wrist and then he shot my shoulder mic off of my shoulder."
This is the first time Salstrom has spoken publicly about those two days in late March when he and fellow officers tried to arrest Marlowe in his home for real estate fraud.
Before Salstrom could react, he said Marlowe reached for a gun on a back desk. "He got about three rounds off from right about here before I was able to step to the left and start shooting back."
From police photos taken after the incident you can see how cramped the Marlowe home was inside. "He was moving," said Salstrom. "We were kind of circling each other. We shot at each other."
Salstrom said they shot back and forth at each other and that's when the officer hit him in the chest." He said the now-wounded Marlowe retreated to another part of the house.
Despite his own injuries, Salstrom stayed in the front room until reinforcements arrived to keep the suspect pinned down.
"My deputy chief literally had to pull me out of the house because I didn't want to leave," said Salstrom.
Thus began the standoff that stretched overnight into the early morning hours. The photos show Marlowe was heavily armed and, wearing the hood, was able to withstand the gas attacks.
Police say it ended when the house caught fire. They say Marlowe refused to put down his gun when he emerged from the inferno. Marlowe died from SWAT team gunfire.
Salstrom says he's glad to be alive. "Pretty fortunate. I think there's a little luck involved also. I think hopefully some of my training and my skills came into play."
Salstrom said they still don't have a clear idea why Marlowe pulled out a gun in the first place when it was just a case of real estate fraud.