By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy won’t face any criminal charges for an on-duty shooting in Stanwood last year.
Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe concluded that the deputy was legally justified in firing at Gene Fagerlie during an armed confrontation outside the man’s property in August. Fagerlie was struck in the hand and a second bullet grazed his head. He survived the shooting.
Deputies reported that Fagerlie pointed a gun in their direction despite being ordered to drop the weapon. Deputy Art Wallin fired.
“I don’t think any of us can say for sure whether the man who was injured would have shot the deputies. I am sure, however, that under all circumstances they were aware of, it wouldn’t have been safe or wise for them to wait and find out,” Roe wrote in a June 6 letter to the lead detectives.
The case was investigated by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team and forwarded to Roe to decide whether the shooting was a lawful use of force.
Roe did not name Fagerlie in the letter, saying he didn’t want to prejudice the upcoming trial.
Prosecutors have charged Fagerlie with unlawful gun possession and second-degree assault. His trial is scheduled to begin in October.
Fagerlie has said he wasn’t pointing the gun at police. He was trying to drop it when he was shot, his attorney, Mark Mestel, said.
At the time of the shooting, Fagerlie had a warrant for his arrest. He had failed to appear for a court hearing related to a child molestation charge that was filed a month earlier. A Snohomish County jury has since acquitted him of that allegation.
He remains in the Snohomish County Jail in connection with the August 15 shooting incident.
The confrontation with police happened after his ex-girlfriend called 911. She and Fagerlie reportedly exchanged some heated text messages. He eventually asked her to come pick up his 2-year-old daughter “because he had something to do.”
Investigators were told Fagerlie made it clear he was depressed and told the woman to come without police, court papers said.
The woman arrived and was walking to her car with the child when she saw a green laser-like light on her shoulder. She said she saw Fagerlie come out of the woods, armed with a gun. She put the child in the car and attempted to talk to Fagerlie. He told the woman to leave and allegedly fired a bullet into the ground about five feet from her. She drove to a nearby fire station and called police.
She warned dispatchers that Fagerlie was armed and wearing a bullet-proof vest.
It was “apparent that the 36-year-old man was certainly expecting, and may well have been intentionally provoking an armed confrontation, even stating at one point words to the effect of, ‘Time to see how good I really am,’” Roe wrote.
Two deputies arrived and approached the house through the woods as a precaution. From their hidden vantage point they saw that Fagerlie was armed with multiple guns. They watched him return to the house and leave through a bathroom window. He went into the woods and then began walking down the driveway.
He reportedly was carrying a rifle and shotgun.
The deputies announced their presence and ordered Fagerlie to drop his guns. He allegedly ignored their commands.
One of the deputies fired.
“I can’t find any fault in that deputy’s decision to shoot when he did,” Roe wrote.
Near where Fagerlie fell, police found a loaded and cocked handgun, a rifle and shotgun, according to court papers. Detectives also found a cache of ammunition and other guns stashed along the fence line bordering the Stanwood man’s property.
An illegal shotgun was found in the house, along with a .22 rifle. Both gun barrels had been shortened to illegal lengths, police reported.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org