Assisted living home worker shot; resident arrested

STANWOOD — State health officials plan to investigate a shooting involving an 86-year-old gunman in an assisted living home in Stanwood on Monday afternoon.

The resident at Josephine Sunset Home is accused of shooting a supervisor at the home.

The victim, 59, was flown by medical helicopter to a Seattle hospital. He was reported in satisfactory condition Monday evening and was receiving treatment in the emergency room.

The shooting occurred after an argument broke out at the center, 9901 272nd Place NW, officials said.

The victim was shot in the stomach about 3 p.m., North County Regional Fire Authority battalion chief Scott Johnston said.

The medical helicopter rushed to Stanwood High School’s athletic stadium around 3:25 p.m. and departed about 15 minutes later, carrying the shooting victim to Harborview Medical Center for treatment.

The suspect was taken quickly into police custody. A handgun was recovered, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shari Ireton said.

“All other residents of the facility are safe and secure,” she said.

The man was arrested Monday night. He was expected to be booked into Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree assault.

The state Department of Social and Health Services was planning this morning to begin examining the circumstances of the shooting. The agency oversees licensing for assisted living centers.

Such centers must balance the rights of individuals with safety concerns, DSHS spokeswoman Kathy Spears said. Most do not allow firearms.

Josephine officials weren’t immediately available for comment. It was unclear Monday what the policy is at Josephine, DSHS district administrator Linda Moss said.

“We will be investigating and trying to get answers,” Moss said. “We will be looking at all the aspects at Josephine and see what was going on.”

Moss said a shooting at an assisted-living home is rare.

Police on Monday wrapped yellow crime-scene tape around the home’s front driveway. Police and fire vehicles lined the street as TV news helicopters circled overhead.

Sheriff’s Major Crimes detectives were interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence.

About 90 minutes after the shooting, roughly a dozen people had gathered in a parking lot across the street, waiting for updates.

Josh Hartwig, 24, of Camano Island, was picking up his 3-year-old and 20-month-old children from a preschool nearby when he saw all the cop cars, he said.

“We ran in there and got our kids,” he said. “Nobody knew (anything). It had just happened.”

Josephine is the second largest employer in Stanwood and provides about 300 jobs, according to its web page. It offers many services including childcare and an early learning center, apartments for the elderly, 160 nursing home beds, hospice care and rehabilitation services.

Public safety officials quickly reassured people that no one else was hurt.

“No children were involved with this incident,” said Drew Bono of the North County Regional Fire Authority.

Josephine has deep roots in the Stanwood community.

More than a century ago, John Hals built the initial Josephine Old People’s Home in the midst of great loss. His young wife, Josephine Hals, died giving birth to their son. The baby died, too. His first wife, Elizabeth, and their two infants had died earlier. Hals was alone.

In his grief, he reached out.

With the fortune he’d amassed running sawmills in the Stanwood area, the Norwegian immigrant decided to build the community’s first nursing home. In 1907, he donated $10,000 to the Norwegian Lutheran Church to build a care facility in Stanwood.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449, rking@heraldnet.com.

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