Man jailed after alleged threats with realistic toy gun

EVERETT — A Snohomish man who reportedly “wanted to commit suicide by cop” was ordered held on $50,000 bail after a standoff Sunday that allegedly involved him threatening sheriff’s deputies with knives, improvised explosives and a toy gun that resembled an assault rifle.

Tyler Gaffney, 32, reportedly was involved in a domestic dispute with family, a melee that involved fists, wrestling and a thrown butcher knife. When a Snohomish County deputy was summoned just before 6 p.m., he allegedly came to the front door carrying a knife in each hand.

He told the deputy to leave and shouted “This is not going to end well!” according to police reports.

A short time later, he came to the door again, carrying some sort of device and told the deputy “I’m going to blow you all up!”

Deputies took up positions around the home and one began trying to talk Gaffney into surrendering. Instead, the man claimed to be a trained sniper and threatened to shoot the deputy twice in the chest and once in the head. The man could be seen displaying what appeared to be a firearm. He claimed it was an M-4, an assault rifle widely used by the U.S. military.

A short time later Gaffney reportedly tossed something out of the window. It was lit, but fizzled out.

As the standoff stretched on, other deputies, including members of the sheriff’s tactical team, converged on the scene.

Just before 7 p.m., Gaffney came out of the home carrying what appeared to be an M-4.

Deputies commanded him to drop the rifle. When he didn’t do so immediately they used “less lethal” impact ammunition to knock him down and took him into custody.

It turned out that Gaffney was carrying an Airsoft replica of an M-4, a realistic-appearing toy. Meanwhile, the explosive devices he claimed to have prepared for deputies were cobbled together from cigarette lighters fitted on aerosol cans.

After his arrest and being advised of his rights, Gaffney provided detectives an hour-long taped statement. He reportedly told them he had served in the U.S. Army for two years, starting in the late 1990s and “claimed he was a member of a super-secret Special Forces team,” police reports said. He also asserted that he served on secret combat missions and had been awarded medals for his bravery.

It was “readily apparent,” detectives reported, that Gaffney’s military claims were false, despite his posting a photo online of a display case festooned with patches, medals and other memorabilia. Others in the community had earlier reached a similar conclusion, particularly after Gaffney this summer attracted attention by self-publishing a book of poems he claimed were inspired by his military experiences.

The last entry on his Facebook page, posted Sunday afternoon, simply said “Good bye (sic).”

Detectives wrote that Gaffney clearly struggles with mental health issues.

“We asked him if he wanted to hurt himself and he said he was trying to commit suicide by cop,” they said in an affidavit filed Monday in Everett District Court.

At a brief hearing, Judge Roger Fisher found probable cause to jail Gaffney for investigation of two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of fourth-degree assault and possession of prohibited explosive devices.

Scott North: 425-339-3431, north@heraldnet.com.

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