Unlikely Shooters

The story of the young man shot by police at UW is starting to look more and more like a tragic mistake. While it’s still far too early to make any real conclusions, the incident does seem eerily similar to the shooting of Everett man Dustin Willard in November. In both cases, friends and family were shocked to find out that the person they knew to be a law-abiding citizen would point a gun at police. Were they affected by alcohol or drugs? Did they not realize that the people yelling at them were police? Or is there some other explanation? These cases far too often come and go, fading into the oblivion without these questions being answered.

UPDATE: This post at Sound Politics is very disturbing. Regularly following news reports on the drug cartels, incidents like these are happening in greater numbers across the United States…not just in Mexico any more.

Comments

  1. 2

    Right Stuff spews:

    Lee, I agree this was a tragic mistake. Tragic in that the individual was stupid…. He should never have had that rifle.
    There is a 99.99999% chance that you will be shot by the police, while holding a rifle, refusing to drop it, then pointing it at officers..

    The officers did the right thing.

  2. 4

    Deathfrogg spews:

    I’m sorry, but this time the cops were within their procedures in this shooting.

    The man WAS drunk, he’d had this particular rifle confiscated before, he had been firing it in the street, and it had a bayonet fixed in place.

    Everything I have heard thus far in this is he basically asked for it. You do not play with guns, drunk, stupid and inside the City. Cops tend to get pretty jumpy in the presence of a .30 caliber battle rifle when its in the hands of a drunk, stupid kid without the brains to reflect upon his actions.

    Darwin wins, again.

    Can’t fault the police on this one.

  3. 5

    mark spews:

    They showed the Nazis’ car on the news and it had an Obama sticker on it. Somebody gonna get fired!

  4. 6

    Michael spews:

    I’d really like to see guns that are taken away from people (as long as it turns out they really are mentally ill, broke the law, have a restraining order against them and so on) stay taken away from people.

    I agree with not faulting the police, but I wonder how many chances to intervene in the dead mans life in a way that could have prevented this from happening were missed?

  5. 7

    spews:

    @2
    It’s certainly possible that the cops did everything right, but we don’t know that just yet. No doubt this kid was being stupid though and deserves the blame for the police being there in the first place. But the police don’t get to shoot people just for being stupid. If he pointed a gun at the cops (and he knew they were cops), then the police did their job. If not, there’s some explaining to do. Maybe we’ll find out for sure, maybe we won’t.

  6. 8

    Tyler spews:

    This is clearly a case where the police should have first played a game of 20 questions with the man before shooting him. The police should have known that the gun was filled with blanks and that he was merely a WW-II reenactionist who did not intend to shoot the gun at the coppers. If only the police did their job and ran a background check.

  7. 11

    Real American spews:

    @10 “ape”

    Thanks Troll, you never quit living up to your moniker.

    He’s one of yours, Puddybud. I will never understand how you live with that shameful fact.

  8. 12

    fishincurt spews:

    I have grown up around guns all my life. I am not proud to say that I have been drunk and fired a weapon, but I have. I have yet to see anybody mention suicide by cop, I think there is more to this story. I am sorry, but when a cop says drop the weapon you drop the weapon or you get shot. He was dressed up in costume, did he think the cops were in costume too? Even in my most dazed and confused, when police are pointing a weapon at me I would like to believe some part of my brain would register what will happen next if I don’t follow their commands.

  9. 13

    spews:

    @12
    I have yet to see anybody mention suicide by cop, I think there is more to this story.

    In the Slog post, a friend of Murphy’s was quoted as saying it was unlikely it was a suicide-by-cop.

    Even in my most dazed and confused, when police are pointing a weapon at me I would like to believe some part of my brain would register what will happen next if I don’t follow their commands.

    Yeah, dude, it would take a whole lot of intoxicants for me not to realize that it’s incredibly stupid to be pointing a gun at police.

  10. 14

    Proud to be SeattleJew Today spews:

    Lee,

    Could you clarify what point you are making here?

    Isn’t the real issue the sadness of a society where someone can dress and act this way?

    I wonder what other choices the cops had. Were they close enough to TASE him? Was he endangering others in addition to threatening the cops?

    Do our existing laws allow us to make possession of a weapon while drunk a crime?

  11. 15

    spews:

    It’d sure be nice to have some independent corroboration of the SPDs version of events. I have a difficult time conceiving of anyone being drunk enough to point a weapon at a group of cops. The Kar 98K is a freakin’ bolt-action, 5-shot rifle. It certainly wouldn’t be my first choice should I decide to go on a shooting spree…

  12. 16

    ratcityreprobate spews:

    Very sad situation. I have to believe this young man was very disturbed. Take a look at the photos from his facebook page that are in the Seattle Times online this morning. He was living in a dimension that I do not comprehend. I’m having a hard time imagining his father demanding that the weapon be returned by the SPD and then giving it back to his son. Dad is going to have to answer some serious questions. I know the kid was an adult but it looks like there was some serious parental negligence while he was growing up. Drugs, alcohol, mental illness…who knows?

    Based on what we know now I don’t see that the cops had any other choice but there are many questions that need to be answered.

  13. 17

    rhp6033 spews:

    The story linked at Sound Politics, which was posted in more detail on the Everett Herald (Heraldnet.com), sounds pretty fishy. The Police aren’t ready to reach any conclusions.

    What they do know is that this lady and her husband were going through a divorce. Somebody shot the husband last week.

    This week, the woman claims that she was assaulted in her kitchen by two strange men. She posts the story on her group’s web site, blaming the attacks as attempts to silence her for her work against illegal immigration. But apparantly she hasn’t given a detailed statement to police yet, something she thinks she will get around to “sometime next week”.

    In the meantime, she’s getting a lot of publicity and support, and anger directed against illegals.

    Everett Police will only say the whole affair is “puzzling”.

    I’d like to speculate, but I’ll refrain other than mentioning those details. I think it’s far too early to point fingers with respect to either of these incidents.

  14. 18

    palamedes spews:

    @17:

    Here’s the latest from the Everett herald.

    Here’s the Southern Poverty Law Center piece on Ms. Forde.

    It would be naive to assume that the Mexican drug cartels will respect our borders or do whatever it takes to maintain their dominance of the market. Someone has been shot. Someone has allegedly been sexually assaulted.

    It also would seem naive to not consider the possibility that this has been at least partially manufactured, partially arranged before or after the fact to her and her organization’s advantage. The couple involved is going through a divorce. Connecting her unfortunate incident with local gangs working in concert with the Mexican drug cartels benefits her anti-immigrant stance and her organization of which she’s a part.

  15. 19

    Proud to be SeattleJew Today spews:

    Is this related to the black helicopters I saw flying over Capital Hill as dawn broke?

  16. 20

    palamedes spews:

    @18:

    To make my last message a little clearer….

    It also would seem naive to not consider the possibility that this has been at least partially manufactured, partially arranged before or after the fact to her and her organization’s advantage. Connecting her unfortunate incident with local gangs working in concert with the Mexican drug cartels benefits her anti-immigrant stance and her organization of which she’s a part.

    Further, the couple involved is going through a divorce. People will sometimes do extreme things during this often painful process.

    There is more going on here than what meets the eye.

  17. 21

    spews:

    @17
    Rhp,
    I looked over the news articles on Forde before I wrote anything up, and while she’s certainly on the radical fringe when it comes to her views on immigration, I had trouble seeing how all of this could be manufactured.

    I guess it’s conceivable that Forde is somehow behind the shooting of her husband (and he somehow behind the counterattack), but I just don’t find it likely. If the only occurrence here was the attack on Forde, I’d be a lot less convinced that it’s what she says it is. The combination of both attacks is very odd.

    Beyond that, Latin American-based cartels are certainly operating in the Puget Sound region (thank you drug prohibition!). In places like Mexico, journalists who report on the activities of these cartels often end up shot. If Forde and her husband were following the activities of local cartel members and providing information to law enforcement, that would make them very clear targets. As I looked at everything that’s been reported on this story so far, that just seemed like the most likely explanation.

  18. 22

    spews:

    @12
    As for the UW shooting, the latest thing I read in the Seattle PI leads me to think that suicide-by-cop is definitely a strong possibility, even if his friends don’t buy it.

  19. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @18 Forde has a conviction on her record for shoplifting chocolate milk. I think chocolate makes her do this stuff. It’s well known that chocolate drives women insane.

  20. 24

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    @21: Lee. I’m with rhp. This whole thing strikes me as fishy, too. The idea that these far out anti-immigrationists posed any threat to the local drug cartel strikes me as far-fetched, to say the least.

  21. 25

    Daughter of RCR spews:

    Forde’s story of her attack sounds as fake as the Republican backwards-B girl last fall, Tawana Brawley or any of the other lesser known racial crime hoaxes perpetrated by disturbed individuals. The story and circumstances do not pass the smell test. If the police believed it was anything besides domestic violence or a hoax, Forde wouldn’t have to promote the story herself.

    Mexican journalists are real threats to cartels because they have the background and connections to know and report all about not just the cartels, but the businessmen and government officials that enable them to function. How? Through family, neighborhood, or village ties. Which Juarez colonia or Sinaloa pueblo did Forde grow up in?

    A couple of white, English only, know-nothing fanatics cannot obtain any information or connections to attract a cartel or gang’s attention. Do they know anything about cartels or gangs that wasn’t published in an US English language newspaper? The stink of pure crazy on this pair would put any real criminals on notice.

    This is a woman who believes an Al Queda cell openly operates out of the Everett Public Library.

  22. 26

    spews:

    @25
    Ok, so let’s say it is a hoax and she made the whole thing up. What about her husband getting shot last week, was that made up too? And if they’re so interested in painting this violence as being from Hispanic gangs, then how come the suspect description for her husband’s shooter is a white man? Wouldn’t they have made it up so that it would be a Hispanic man?

    Obviously, you can never discount the possibility that someone came up with an elaborate hoax for publicity purposes, but there hasn’t been an indication that the police aren’t taking either incident seriously, even if that say they’re puzzled by it all.

    We’ll see where this case ends up…

  23. 27

    drool spews:

    #14 SeattleJew,

    “Isn’t the real issue the sadness of a society where someone can dress and act this way?”

    Huh? What’s wrong with dressing in period military gear.

    Did you see the photo of the same guy in a WW1 Brit uniform complete with kilt?

    I presume you bitch about those that dress up as Johnny Reb, vikings, pirates, inquisitors, etc.

  24. 28

    YLB spews:

    That Forde woman is too kooky. I have no doubt an awful crime was perpetrated on her and her husband but damn how misplaced is their energy?

    Bunch of showboating, messianic nutjobs.

    Look wingnuts illegals are here because greedheads WANT THEM here. Go after your fellow greedhead Republican if you want the undocumented to stop coming here.

  25. 30

    spews:

    @29
    Excuse me, but YLB never said otherwise. He was simply imploring wingnuts to go after the Republicans who protect and benefit from this illegal labor source since they are the party that tends to get most of the fervently anti-illegal immigration votes. That statement doesn’t imply in any way that Democrats haven’t hired illegal laborers.

    Please try harder not to swing at strawmen.

  26. 31

    Proud to be SeattleJew Today spews:

    @27 drool

    Read what I wrote. I sad that it is sad to dress AND ACT this way.

    Impersonating a monster is very different from walking around with a working chain saw while dressed as Freddy.

  27. 32

    spews:

    Recap.

    College student gets drunk, dresses up in period Nazi uniform, goes outside, points weapon (later found to be loaded with blanks) at police.

    Reports from witnesses say that the police did not immediately kill said college student, but actually did try to talk him into lowering his weapon, which (apparently due to a combination of alcohol and stupidity) he did not do.

    Ok. We can all feel sorry for the student. College students often do really stupid things, and it’s tragic when those stupid things end up being fatal.

    And we can certainly feel sorry for the family and friends of the student. They have suffered a tragic loss.

    But… it sounds like the police did their jobs properly and professionally. I expect restraint from police officers, I do not expect them to wait until someone is actually killed before taking action against an apparently armed and dangerous drunk.

    And while we have since found out that the student was actually not a Nazi, I see no need for an apology from those who assumed he was, when the student chose to go out in public wearing an outfit that actively proclaimed him to be a Nazi.

    It is sad that the student made a series of really bad decisions, at least partly due to alcohol.

    Now his “friends” are blaming the police.

    We’ve had actual cases where the police either overreacted or simply abused their authority. This doesn’t look like one of them.

    Perhaps if the “friends” had chosen to intervene before this young man had picked up a weapon and pointed it at the police, he would still be alive.

    I’m a big fan of police accountability when they abuse their authority. That doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    They did their jobs well and professionally.

  28. 33

    spews:

    @32
    College student gets drunk, dresses up in period Nazi uniform, goes outside, points weapon (later found to be loaded with blanks) at police.

    John,
    The police are the only ones who said that he pointed his weapon at them. No eyewitnesses have come forward to corroborate that part of the story, and the family apparently has spoken with an eyewitness whose account differs from police. I still think it’s too early to make any conclusions just yet, although as I’ve said, if Murphy did point his gun at the police, they took appropriate action.

    Whether or not the story given by police is accurate is what I’m still interested in knowing.

  29. 34

    Puddybud, Hey it's the New Year... spews:

    Why do illegals come to America?

    Cuz they know they can blend in and suck the American teat. Sure some come here to send money back their home peeps. Others come here for the free ride.

  30. 35

    Puddybud, Hey it's the New Year... spews:

    But what gets me is the short memory of people. In 1996 an executive order was signed. Puddy remembers yet, La Raza and it’s friends forgot about this order…

    Proves Donk have short memories…

  31. 36

    Puddybud, Hey it's the New Year... spews:

    Illegals also know with the Plyler vs. Doe 1982 SCOTUS decision they can get free education.

    California saw these costs increase so Prop 187 passed. But Fed Court judge Marianna Pfaelzer blocked it from being enforced. So Gov Wilson sued the US Government because the illegal education costs were hurting CA. Now we see a big budget deficit in CA which the governator is struggling to close.

    Another PuddyHistory Lesson.

  32. 37

    spews:

    Sorry, Lee, but while the police are the only ones that saw him point the weapon, credible witnesses (who had enough sense to hide behind large objects) have said that they heard the police warn him several times before they fired.

    I suppose we could envision a situation where the young man had actually put down his weapon, but the police warned him a few more times just for show, then killed him for no reason.

    But to believe that takes far more cynicism about the police than I can muster.

    We should criticize and condemn the police when they abuse their position and authority, but unless you start with the position that the police are wrong until proven right, and even then they are probably still wrong, this one looks like they did everything properly. Condemning them in this case actually weakens our argument when the do screw up.

    I don’t expect the police to be psychic, and somehow know that there aren’t real bullets in the weapon that a drunk in a Nazi uniform is waving around.

    I expect them to give the individual one (and only one) warning to put down the weapon, and even that could be skipped if the individual appeared to be endangering others.

    Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin; the victim can’t help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentance is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity” – Lazarus Long

  33. 38

    spews:

    @37
    Sorry, Lee, but while the police are the only ones that saw him point the weapon, credible witnesses (who had enough sense to hide behind large objects) have said that they heard the police warn him several times before they fired.

    The witness said that the police yelled at him quickly to drop his weapon. I have not heard how long the wait was before shots were fired. If Murphy came out of his apartment, not realizing that there were police everywhere, and he was drunk, he may not have acted at the same speed the officers (who thought they might be encountering a dangerous gunman) were working at.

    I suppose we could envision a situation where the young man had actually put down his weapon, but the police warned him a few more times just for show, then killed him for no reason.

    No, I envision a situation where Murphy came out of his apartment under the influence and with a gun slung over his shoulder, and was shot before he could comprehend that it was police officers who were shouting commands at him. And no, that’s not cynicism, it’s actually a pattern you see when you sit around like I do and Google for news stories about drug raids. I don’t want to be cynical about cops. I’d like to believe that they’re all honest all the time, but I see so many instances when they’re not, that I don’t automatically presume they’re telling the truth. I wait until evidence comes out to back them up.

  34. 39

    spews:

    Lee said:

    The witness said that the police yelled at him quickly to drop his weapon. I have not heard how long the wait was before shots were fired. If Murphy came out of his apartment, not realizing that there were police everywhere, and he was drunk, he may not have acted at the same speed the officers (who thought they might be encountering a dangerous gunman) were working at

    You are probably correct in thinking that the amount of time that the police gave this young man was less than would be needed by a very drunk person unaware of what he was doing.

    However, they had no way of knowing whether this young man was just an innocent drunk or a dangerous lunatic, bent on shooting it out with the police, and I cannot fault them for their actions based on the available information.

    Did some neighbors hear the warning, while others did not? Almost certainly. Seeing the pictures (in the PI) of the scene, it seems very unlikely that anyone other than the police actually saw anything.

    There are, of course, some folks around there that will claim to have seen it all, and that the police were at fault. It is, after all, the U district in Seattle. The fellow could have killed a couple of officers first and there would still be folks saying it was their fault.

    Of course there are situations where the police have lied. And of course, if credible information comes up that contradicts the statements of the officers, we should revisit the situation.

    But as of right now, the only thing anyone has said that contradicts the officers’ account of the situation is the young man’s mother (who wasn’t there) and some of his fellow students (also not there).

    The man was told by armed police officers to put down his weapon. It’s sad that he was too drunk to comprehend the situation, but that’s certainly not the fault of the police.

    If this young man had gotten into a car and was killed driving into a tree, we wouldn’t be blaming the tree, even if the grieving mother did.

    This wasn’t a drug raid. This was the police responding to a 911 call about folks shooting weapons in their neighborhood.

    This is about the police doing what we want them to do, even though in this case, the results are not what we want.

    If anyone is to blame here, I would be looking at the “friends” that were reportedly with the young man on his little shooting spree.

    Get buddy drunk. Leave buddy with weapon. With friends like that…

  35. 42

    spews:

    @39
    But as of right now, the only thing anyone has said that contradicts the officers’ account of the situation is the young man’s mother (who wasn’t there) and some of his fellow students (also not there).

    That does not mean that you assume it to be true. That was the issue I had with your initial comment. I think that in this case, it’s very possible that it’s true, but cops often have a motivation to lie in cases like this to cover their ass. And when we take their words at face value all the time, what stops them from lying?

    The kid himself (and his friends) deserve a lot of blame for the situation…no doubt. But I still have questions about how the police assessed the situation and concluded that they were dealing with a dangerous person.

    And by the way, if the cops are found to have acted improperly or to have lied, I don’t think they should necessarily be arrested, or even fired (but should certainly be disciplined for lying). I just think it should be treated as a bad mistake, and a basis for doing a better job assessing threats in the future. This isn’t about going after the police, it’s about improving the policing in this city.

  36. 43

    Michael spews:

    I’m curious about the previous encounter with the police and having the gun taken away. Did we miss a chance at counseling for depression or drug and alcohol issues that might have helped the kid out and prevented this from happening?

  37. 45

    Proud to be SeattleJew Today spews:

    Sighhh ….

    All this comes down to is that lee wants to say he distrusts the police. I have trouble, knowing a bit about Lee, understanding what the cops could do that would satisfy Lee.

    It seesm to me that the key question here is whether the SPD maintain a level of professionalism that makes them deserve respect. If that is not true, we are in really deep horse pucky.