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

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Foundation awards grants to Arlington schools

The Arlington Education Foundation on Nov. 13 presented a check to the… Continue reading

Snohomish County firefighters head to California for 18 days

They’re from Fire District 26 in Gold Bar, Getchell Fire and Fire District 7.

State commission reprimands Snohomish County judge for DUI

Judge Marybeth Dingledy had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a day in jail.

Driver arrested after car strikes pedestrian in Everett

The pedestrian was crossing the road near 12th Street and Broadway. He was injured.

Active Casino Road volunteer honored for work

Molina Healthcare recently honored Jorge Galindo, from Everett, as one of its… Continue reading

Over $12K raised to InspireHER

InspireHER, a local organization that encourages female empowerment, raised over $12,000 at… Continue reading

Most Read