Authorities unsure why man was on steps of Wenatchee church
WENATCHEE — It’s not yet clear why a man killed by police Saturday went to Living Hope Community Church in Wenatchee and, according to witnesses, fired a gun at a doorway.
“A lot of the investigation is circled right around that question,” Douglas County Undersheriff Tyler Caille said Monday. He added, “What’s the reason, if any? Or was it just random?”
The man was not a member of Living Hope, Pastor Jeremy Peyton said Monday.
In a statement, church elders said, “We don’t know why the deceased was trying to enter the building that morning, but we wish we could have met him at the same spot just an hour later.”
The church was planning to host a group Celebrate Recovery session Saturday.
Authorities have not released the identities of the officers involved in the shooting nor that of the man who was killed, though they’re expected to be disclosed this week, Caille said Monday.
Witnesses interviewed by reporters in Memorial Park about 35 minutes after the shooting said they saw the man across the street at the corner of North Chelan Avenue and Palouse Street kicking the church door and shooting it with a pistol.
Don and Rodelie Ross, vendors at the Washington State Apple Blossom Arts & Crafts Fair, called 911 at 8:27 a.m. Two Wenatchee police officers arrived by bicycle and the shooting quickly followed, the husband and wife said.
One officer was wounded in the lower left leg. He’s at home recovering, according to Wenatchee Police Chief Steve Crown. Both involved officers were placed on administrative leave, a standard procedure following shootings, and have been offered mental health treatment services.
“Our focus right now is solely on our people — making sure they have every resource they need to make a full recovery and ultimately normalize as best they can,” Crown said Monday.
The shooting is under investigation by the North Central Washington Special Investigation Unit. Members agencies of the unit are the sheriff’s offices of Douglas, Chelan and Okanogan counties, Washington State Patrol, East Wenatchee Police Department and Wenatchee Police Department.
But because the shooting involved Wenatchee police officers, the Wenatchee Police Department detectives will not be part of the investigation.
“With the independent investigation process, we’re kept completely out of the details of the investigation,” Crown said. “We know very little with regard to the process and what evidence are being collected.”
A window in the church doorway where the man was killed was boarded up Monday, but damage from the incident remained visible. Peyton said the church will likely need a new door but damage appears to be limited to the doorway area.
Police notified the church before midnight Saturday and told them they could access the building and begin cleanup.
The church hosted a Sunday service. “Our gathering was really more of a reflection and prayer time,” Peyton said. “We spent a lot of time praying for those involved.”
Pete O’Cain: (509) 664-7152