By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
STANWOOD — Derek Carlile heard a pop and then saw one of his daughters step out of the family van, saying something about a gun and her brother.
The off-duty Marysville police officer ran to the vehicle and found his oldest daughter, Jenna, 7, slumped over in her seat. He saw blood and realized the girl had been shot.
A deputy who was summoned to the scene on March 10 found Carlile attempting life-saving efforts on Jenna on the floor of the van. The officer’s wife and two younger children were standing outside the van, crying.
A three-page police report released Thursday indicates that one of the younger children obtained Carlile’s .22-caliber revolver from a cubbyhole under the van’s dashboard and shot Jenna while she was seated in the back of the vehicle.
The Camano Island family had been on their way to a wedding, but stopped by the Stanwood art studio where Carlile’s wife works to deliver some business cards.
He got out, but forgot the cards. His wife realized the oversight, and got out, too.
The Carliles were talking to the studio’s owner when the shooting happened.
Their four children, including an infant, were waiting inside the nearby vehicle. Carlile told the deputy the van was within sight.
Carlile, 30, reportedly told the deputy that he usually kept the handgun in a holster on his ankle. He said he must have left the gun and holster in a cubbyhole under the dash, according to the police report. The cubby was obscured by his wife’s purse, he said. After the shooting, Carlile noticed that the gun was lying on the floor between the two front seats.
Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives completed their investigation into the girl’s death and forwarded the case on Wednesday to prosecutors for review. Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul declined to say how long it may take her to decide whether criminal charges will be filed in connection with the shooting.
It wasn’t immediately clear to Paul if she will request additional investigation into the incident, she said.
The prosecutor’s office on Thursday, under the state’s public records law, released deputy Brian Odenborg’s brief recounting of what he saw and heard at the scene that day.
The deputy noted that Carlile was “extremely distraught,” but continued to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on his daughter until paramedics arrived. The deputy noted that Jenna had a small hole near her belly button. The deputy and her father attempted to revive the girl with an automated defibrillator and packed her wound to reduce bleeding.
Paramedics raced the girl to the hospital. Her mother rode with the child in the ambulance.
Jenna died the next day.
No charges are expected to be filed against the child who pulled the trigger. All the children present are believed to be younger than the 7-year-old victim. According to state law, children under the age of 8 are incapable of committing a crime.
Because only three pages of the investigative records were released, it remains unclear how much detectives focused on the parents’ actions in the moments leading up to their daughter’s death.
Sheriff’s detectives made no recommendation on whether charges should be filed.
There are state laws governing transporting firearms in vehicles, and include some exceptions for police and corrections officers, military personnel, gun sellers and firearm collectors en route to gun shows.
In Washington, there is no specific law regarding potential criminal penalties for adults who make it possible for children to get their hands on guns.
Derek Carlile remains on paid administrative leave from his police job.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.