WENATCHEE — One person was killed and one police officer was wounded in a shooting Saturday morning in Wenatchee.
Wenatchee police officers responded at about 8:30 a.m. to the Living Hope Community Church at the corner of North Chelan Avenue and Palouse Street to reports of shots fired.
There were witnesses to the shooting which took place across the street from the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival Food Fair and Arts & Crafts Fair in Memorial Park. Vendors were getting ready to open on the day of the Stemilt Grand Parade.
Don Ross and his wife Rodelle, both of Missoula, Montana, were setting up their arts and crafts booth, D&R Creations, about 200 feet away at Memorial Park when they heard a commotion and gunshots at the church.
“First we heard a big load of shots and we thought, ‘What’s going on?’” Rodelie Ross said. “And then when I look, I saw that guy yelling and cussing and breaking the window.”
She told her husband to look and then he shot the window again.
“So I was really alarmed, like ‘Oh my God, he has a gun,’” Rodelie Ross said.
A man was “shooting at the door and then kicking it and then cussing and then shooting at it again and then really kicking at it, trying to get in,” Don Ross said. They called 911 at 8:27 a.m.
“I dialed 911 and I gave it to him,” Rodelie Ross said. “I was hiding there because I’m scared that, you know, he’s going to come here and try to shoot my husband.”
Two officers arrived by bicycle shortly after.
“The police arrived and they told him to put the pistol down, and he didn’t comply,” Don Ross said. “And so there was two of them that fired at him and he went down instantly.”
He added one officer was shot in the leg “from him shooting back.”
Don Ross said the man was “trying to raise (the gun) up and they shot him when he started raising it up.”
Rodelie Ross said the the first two officers to arrive were a man and a woman and "told the guy to, you know, ‘put your gun down.’”
She said, “I saw the guy try to put his gun down but he got it back again." She said it appeared that he was reloading his gun.
And then, “He’s shooting the police officers and the police officers is firing back,” Rodelie Ross said. She added, “It was really quick. Like, he just got down really quick.”
Don Ross described the man as a white man roughly 40 years old. "He was dressed very nicely, nice pants, had a tie on."
He wasn’t certain how many times the man fired his gun into the church. He said he believes police fired at the man about six times.
The man was “killed instantly,” Don Ross said.
“I went over there a little way before they put up the ribbon and they had a sheet over him or something,” Don Ross said.
After the shooting, “the police got here pretty darn quick,” Don Ross said.
He said there weren’t many people in the area when the shooting occurred.
Joy Docter, a Seattle resident and owner of the booth Uncle Stinky’s Magic & Novelties, was in her van parked across North Chelan Avenue at the Animal Hospital of Wenatchee when the shooting began.
Docter said she initially heard popping but it took her a while to realize the sound she was hearing was gunfire, she said.
“After the intermittent group of gunshots, all of the sudden, I heard a very violent voice,” she said. “Believe me, I’m from Seattle, so we hear a lot of screaming, but this was the worst I had ever heard. After he started screaming really violently, all of a sudden, I heard a gun in a very rapid succession.”
Docter said then ducked down in her van and tried calling 911 but nobody answered so she shut her phone off.
After a couple of minutes, she said she saw a group of police officers on bicycles arrive.
“I saw the police coming, even though the gunshots were still going off, all of the policemen laid their bikes in the street,” Docter said. “They all drew their guns, and they had them pointed right at the door of the church. There was a shootout. During the shootout with the police, I ducked again, because I was really, really frightened.”
Don Seabrook, World photo editor, was downtown near The Wenatchee World building at 14 Mission St. getting ready to cover the Apple Blossom Festival Grand Parade when the shooting took place. Here’s his report:
Loud sounds of gunfire rang out near the corner of Chelan Avenue and Palouse Street just before 8:30 a.m. this morning.
A man, clutching the arms of two children hurried down Palouse across from the Living Hope Community Church, ducking for cover behind cars. “Someone is shooting up the church!” he yelled at someone else on the sidewalk. “I need to get my kids out of here.”
A bike officer came around the fenced corner of the church property with her gun drawn. More shots were fired.
A few moments later, another police officer ran around the corner, laying down on the sidewalk. Blood was coming down his leg. More officers ran to him, guns drawn, and checked his wound.
In just over a minute, four officers and a paramedic had come to his aid.
A bloodied man lay at the southwest entrance to the church, at the top of the steps. One of the windows on the door was broken.
Four police bicycles lay on Chelan Avenue in front of the church.
This incident is being investigated by the North Central Washington Special Investigation Unit — an independent investigative team comprised of investigators from the Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan County Sheriff's Offices, East Wenatchee and Wenatchee Police Departments and the Washington State Patrol. This unit is activated because this is an officer-involved shooting incident, according to a NCWSIU news release.
None of the Wenatchee Police Department investigators in this unit were involved in this incident, according to the news release.