State to pay $9M to victims of Skagit County rampage

OLYMPIA — Washington state has agreed to pay $9 million to settle claims that a fatal shooting rampage in Skagit County in 2008 could have been prevented, a lawyer involved in the case said Wednesday.

Isaac Zamora killed six people and wounded four others on Sept. 2, 2008, in a rampage that began near the town of Alger, 70 miles north of Seattle, and continued along Interstate 5. The dead included a man who had accused Zamora of trespassing, a woman who lived nearby, two construction workers, a motorist and Skagit County Deputy Sheriff Anne Jackson, who had frequently tried to help Zamora’s family deal with his mental illness.

Lawyer Jack Connelly, who represents the estate of victim Julie Binschus as well as wounded Washington State Patrol trooper Troy Giddings, said in a news release Wednesday that the Department of Corrections had agreed to pay $9 million to all of the victims or their families except for Jackson, whose family did not join the lawsuit.

The families argued that the Department of Corrections misclassified Zamora as a nonviolent offender — instead of a mentally ill, violent one — following his release from the Okanagan County Jail shortly before the shootings. At the time Zamora was released from the Okanagan County Jail, the state was switching over to a new classification system for calculating the risk posed by offenders, and a mistake in the system resulted in more than half of the state’s high-risk, violent offenders, including Zamora, being wrongly classified.

Connelly said the community corrections officer assigned to his case also failed to monitor him. If she had, he said, she would have learned he had been keeping guns in the trailer where he was staying, which would have resulted in Zamora’s arrest before the rampage.

A corrections spokeswoman said she did not immediately have details of the settlement.

Zamora pleaded guilty to 18 counts, including aggravated murder, and was sentenced to a lifetime of confinement. As part of the plea deal he was initially confined at Western State Hospital for his mental issues, but was later transferred to the state prison at Monroe.

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