Motive in death still eludes police

CAMANO ISLAND — Investigators say they may never know why Riley Leif Ottersen leveled his gun at two people on Camano Island on Feb. 16.

Ottersen opened fire, killing Bret Berlin, 44, and wounding a woman. The victims were sitting in a parked car at the time.

Then Ottersen led police on a high-speed pursuit from the island to I-5 and south to Mukilteo. In that city, he reportedly crashed and drew the gun on police, and was shot by officers.

Ottersen died a few weeks later at a Seattle hospital. He was 34.

Two different investigations into the day’s violence are ongoing.

The Island County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the double shooting on Camano Island.

The Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, or SMART team, is investigating the Mukilteo shooting, a standard procedure when police use fatal force.

The Island County sheriff’s investigation is wrapping up, detective Ed Wallace said. Because Ottersen, the sole suspect, is dead, no criminal court case is expected to follow.

At the hospital, Ottersen was too gravely injured to speak with detectives before he died.

“We were not able to determine the motive,” Wallace said. “The surviving victim couldn’t shed any light on what happened. (Ottersen) was a heroin addict. We don’t know why. (The surviving victim) couldn’t tell us why.”

Investigators believe that Ottersen and the Camano Island shooting victims ran in the same circles and had mutual friends, but there was no other known connection among them.

Evidence collected in the case, including ballistics, supported the woman’s story of what happened, Wallace said.

She and Berlin were sitting in a car in the 500 block of Michelle Drive at about 3:15 p.m. when Ottersen approached the driver’s side window and asked for cigarettes.

One of them handed Ottersen a pack of cigarettes. Ottersen grabbed the pack and then “pulled out a firearm and without warning or provocation shot (Berlin) in the head,” detectives were told.

The bullet went into the left side of the man’s face and out the right side of his neck, according to court papers. The same bullet went through the woman’s arm.

The SMART investigation into the Mukilteo shooting also is ongoing, pending additional reports from the county medical examiner’s office, said Mark Marsh, an agency spokesman and Edmonds police sergeant.

Ottersen’s handgun was recovered at the Mukilteo scene. Investigators have not said whether he shot at police before they opened fire. Upon completion, SMART investigations are reviewed by prosecutors to determine if the fatal force was justified.

Ottersen had no felony history in Washington.

He’d had two previous interactions with Island County deputies, officials said.

He was given a ticket in February 2013 for a headlight-related traffic violation. Police also were summoned that June for reports that Ottersen was threatening suicide.

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

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Most Read