By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
STANWOOD — The 7-year-old daughter of a Marysville police officer has died after being shot by a younger sibling.
The girl died at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle early Sunday.
The shooting happened Saturday afternoon in the officer’s parked van in Stanwood. The sibling, whose age and gender have not been released, found a loaded handgun in the vehicle and fired it, striking the girl, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating.
The vehicle was parked across the street from Stanwood’s City Hall near the intersection of Highway 532 and 102nd Avenue NE. The children’s parents were standing by the van when the shooting happened, talking with their friend, local artist Jack Gunter.
“These are close personal friends. The parents are very conscientious and this is the most loving family I’ve ever known,” Gunter said. “I can’t imagine the burden they have right now.”
Stanwood Mayor Dianne White was at the scene just after the shooting. She said the city’s new police chief had opened City Hall to bring in the victim’s family, triggering an alarm. White then rushed over to turn off the alarm. About a dozen law enforcement and aid vehicles surrounded the area, White said.
“The whole community is stricken with the grief and sadness that comes with an event such as this,” White said.
The girl attended Utsalady Elementary School on Camano Island. She was the oldest of four children, White said.
Stanwood-Camano School Superintendent Jean Shumate said that grief counselors are scheduled to be on hand when students arrive for school Monday.
“We are saddened over this tragedy,” Shumate said.
On Sunday, people from the Stanwood-Camano community had begun to leave flowers at the spot where the shooting occurred.
On a wet and windy Sunday evening, visitors had left balloons, three teddy bears and a stuffed lamb toy, several live plants and bouquets of flowers.
People drove by the spot slowly, some taking photographs or leaving mementos.
A young father who appeared shaken, stopped by, with baby in arms, and took a photo.
Neither the officer’s identity nor any details about his career with the department have been released. Investigators have not said whether the weapon involved in the shooting had been issued by the police department.
“At this time we are all extremely concerned for the well-being of one of our department family members,” said Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
The girl was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Colby Campus in Everett then transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
The Stanwood Police Department requested that the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office investigate the incident. Detectives from the sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit are investigating, said Lt. Brent Speyer of the Sheriff’s Office.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.