By Scott North and Eric Stevick Herald Writers
SNOHOMISH — A Snohomish man who allegedly has been trying to take the law into his own hands is getting some first-hand experience with the real deal.
Graham Melvin Willmore, 52, was jailed for investigation of assault and unlawful imprisonment after allegedly claiming to be “police” and ordering a man to the ground at gunpoint Wednesday. His bail was set at $25,000.
Willmore called 911 just after noon Wednesday to report seeing a man go behind a sewage lift station in the 1800 block of First Street. He described the man as white, in his 50s and wearing a black bandana. He told dispatchers that he thought the man may be carrying a weapon in a fanny pack.
As it turned out, the man was neither armed nor did he have a fanny pack, police said. Instead, he had a black baseball cap on his belt.
When Snohomish Police Chief John Flood arrived, he saw Willmore pointing a black, semiautomatic handgun at a man who was on the ground.
The chief was the first officer on the scene and quickly recognized the suspect. He said he had a notion it would be Willmore based on a description of his pickup and other recent encounters with the police department.
Flood said he arrived to see the suspect pointing a gun at the other man, who was on his knees.
While the suspect was cooperative and immediately holstered his weapon, the victim feared for his life, Flood said.
“He looked like you or me, just some guy walking down the street, an average Joe,” the police chief said. “He thought that our suspect was going to shoot him. He was so thankful when we arrived.”
Ironically, the man said he was out walking to relieve stress.
After police sorted out what was going on, it was Willmore who wound up wearing handcuffs.
The other man told police he was walking when Willmore pulled up in a pickup truck, jumped out and pointed a handgun at his face.
Willmore allegedly screamed at the man to get on the ground, and when asked who he was, he reportedly responded, “The police.”
It was the third time in recent weeks that Willmore has been the focus of Snohomish police reports involving self-styled crime fighting, according to court records.
In the first incident April 16, Willmore allegedly pulled a gun on a man who refused to take his hands out of his pockets at his command. When questioned by police, Willmore said that man looked like somebody he’d seen on “Washington’s Most Wanted,” and that he considered shooting him when he approached within eight feet. Willmore came to the police department to report the encounter. Police were not able to track down any witnesses, including the man who was allegedly held at gunpoint.
On Monday, Willmore reportedly intimidated “several” Snohomish shopkeepers by carrying a handgun in a holster on his hip. He spoke negatively about police, claiming they were “not doing anything to get rid of the homeless and criminals in the city,” court papers said.
“A reasonable person would conclude that Willmore (is) trying to take on the responsibilities of the police and his aggressive behavior is clearly escalating,” police wrote after Wednesday’s incident.
The handgun Willmore was carrying on that day was fully loaded. He told police he decided to stop the man who was walking near the lift station because he thought he resembled a burglary suspect who had hit the neighborhood.
Willmore said he had approached the man and said, “Hello, do you live around here?” He claimed the man reacted with aggression, and that’s why he unholstered his handgun.
He denied pointing the weapon and said he had no plan to shoot anyone.
“I asked Willmore what he would have done if (the other man) did not follow his instructions and continued to walk on. Willmore stated he would have discharged the weapon into the ground,” the police report said.
The suspect was booked into the Snohomish County Jail on Wednesday.
“I applaud people who want to be proactive, but this individual has just gone past anything we would condone,” Flood said.
Scott North: 425-339-3431, email@example.com