MUKILTEO — Within minutes of the first 911 call, police had the name of the suspect in a July 30 shooting that left three dead and a fourth wounded in an upscale Mukilteo neighborhood overlooking the waterfront.
By then, Allen Ivanov, 19, was in his car headed south. A semiautomatic assault rifle was by his side.
As he drove, he confided in friends.
He phoned an online acquaintance from Maryland.
The Maryland man called 911 in Snohomish County after Ivanov phoned a mutual friend and allegedly said he’d killed some people.
“He sounded very distraught,” the young man told a dispatcher. “He sounded very suicidal.”
He described Ivanov’s car. He wasn’t sure where Ivanov was heading, but thought he still had the gun in his car. He pleaded with the dispatcher not to let officers kill Ivanov when they caught up with him.
“Do you have any idea of why he would have done something like that?” the dispatcher asked.
Ivanov’s friend stumbled over his words.
“I don’t understand why he would have done this. I mean, sometimes he’s emotional, he makes jokes, but I wouldn’t think he had the capacity to do this,” he said. “I mean, I know he loved his girlfriend a lot, but I think they broke up. But he said he did, he said he broke up with her. But he is a very emotional person.”
The friend had talked to Ivanov’s ex-girlfriend Anna Bui several times, he said Tuesday.
“She was a really sweet person,” he said. “It’s hard to understand why this happened.”
Ivanov did something terrible and likely called his out-of-state friends because he didn’t know what else to do, he said.
The friend Ivanov called in Maryland was part of a team called Skirmos that has been working on a laser tag system marketed for “modern gamers” to allow them to create custom laser tag fields. Ivanov evidently was part of the project.
A post on the project’s Facebook page said Ivanov’s friends there were “as shocked and disturbed by the events in Washington state as everyone.”
“Allen Ivanov has worked with us and been our friend and colleague for a number of years,” the post said.
Ivanov is charged with aggravated murder for the deaths of Bui, Jordan Ebner and Jake Long, classmates from Kamiak High School who graduated together last year and had just finished their first year of college. Another Kamiak grad, Will Kramer, survived. He was shot in the back and is recovering at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Ivanov made other calls. Just before police arrested him, he had a short conversation with his mother. He told her he was driving toward Portland and that he’d been involved in a shooting.
The call was disconnected when police pulled him over, his mom told a dispatcher.
Ivanov was stopped near Chehalis, more than 100 miles from the shootings.
Anna Ivanov was desperate for answers. She was calling from the Kalaloch Lodge on the Washington coast, trying to learn if there had been a shooting in Snohomish County. She was frantic. She hadn’t heard anything more from her son, she was hours away, and she didn’t know what was happening.
“My son just called me with an emergency call and I don’t know what’s going on,” she said.
At least four times over the course of three hours, she called dispatchers trying to get information. Each time she was told someone would contact her.
“Can you just tell me if it’s true?” she asked. “Is it true? Was there a shooting?”
Allen Ivanov also was in touch with at least one other friend via text messages.
A woman called 911 later that morning to say her son had exchanged texts with Ivanov the previous night and up to two days earlier. Her son was in Kentucky, she said, and was afraid.
“You know how these 19-year-olds, they make stupid comments, and he made some comment on the text messages and he’s scared that he will be held responsible ‘cause he had no clue,” she said.
Her son was having a panic attack, she said, and she wanted to know what to say to calm him down.
The dispatcher advised her that police were not looking for her son. She was told not to worry and to make sure her son kept the texts and any other records of communication with Ivanov.
Detectives have found evidence that Ivanov was planning the killings for days, including in text messages to a friend in Kentucky. Ivanov also had posted pictures on social media of him posing with a semiautomatic rifle. One of the tweets that detectives recovered from his account mentioned the manufacturer of the gun: “What’s Ruger gonna think?” It was posted July 28, two days before the attack.
Ivanov bought the rifle July 26. Two days later, he put it in the trunk of his car and drove to a quiet spot, he told detectives.
On July 29, the day before the shootings, Ivanov left work early, around 4 p.m., saying he didn’t feel well. He drove to Tulalip and bought a second magazine for his rifle. That night, around 10 p.m., he allegedly parked outside the party and became angry after spotting his ex-girlfriend with someone else. He told detectives he read the instruction manual for the rifle before approaching the home.
The gunfire started just after midnight July 30.
Ivanov later told detectives he broke up with Bui two months before the shootings. Both attended University of Washington Bothell. He described Bui as his “dream girl,” and his first kiss. He’d hoped to win her back.
Detectives said he told them that “everything that went on tonight was about a girl” and that he considered the rifle a symbol of power.
Another young man later called 911 to report that he had been with Ivanov that Friday. He told the dispatcher he was scared and wanted to pass along information.
“We think it’s some weird girlfriend revenge thing,” the man said.
He also told the dispatcher that Ivanov had picked him up that day and they’d knocked on someone’s door. It was strange enough that the young man asked Ivanov if he was OK.
“And he said, ‘Yeah dude, I’m fine. I would never do anything bad,’” the man told the dispatcher.