BELLINGHAM — A former Marysville elementary principal who’d taken a job leading a campus in Whatcom County was shot to death along with her pets, and authorities say they believe her husband was responsible.
Bellingham Public Schools identified Lynn Heimsoth, 58, the principal at Sunnyland Elementary, as the victim of the Thursday morning shooting, The Bellingham Herald reported. Heimsoth led Shoultes Elementary School in Marysville from 2013 through the 2017 school year.
Her husband Kevin Heimsoth, 56, suffered what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was taken to St. Joseph’s hospital in critical condition before being transferred to another hospital, said St. Joseph’s spokeswoman Bev Mayhew. His name was not immediately released.
“We are heartbroken by this news,” Bellingham Public Schools Superintendent Greg Baker said in a written statement. “Her death is a profound loss to our Sunnyland community, our school district and to our extended community. Lynn was a passionate, equity-driven instructional leader. She loved kids to the core and always kept students’ needs at the center of her work.”
Heimsoth had been the principal at Sunnyland Elementary since July 2017. Besides Shoultes in Marysville, she also worked for Bremerton, North Kitsap and South Kitsap school districts as an elementary teacher and instructional leader, Baker’s statement said.
Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a murder-suicide at the Chartwell Estates condominium on Marine Drive at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday. They found Lynn Heimsoth dead, her husband critically wounded and Heimsoth’s therapy dog, Sukha, and a cat both dead from gunshot wounds.
The therapy dog was always by Heimsoth’s side, Baker’s statement said.
Members of the school district’s counseling and support team will be available for students at Sunnyland Elementary on Jan. 6 when the students return from winter break, Baker’s statement said.
The district also provided resources for families to speak with their children about the tragedy, which help deal with death and grief.
While in Marysville in 2017, Heimsoth was recognized for her outstanding effort to keep her school and students safe. She was credited with using a safety app during a lockdown while Marysville police were attempting to stop suspects in a stolen car. The technology aims to increase accurate communication between school staff and 911.
During the event, officers used a panic button application to contact several schools directly, and simultaneously place them on lockdown while officers tracked down the suspect. Heimsoth then used a panic button ‘Staff Assist’ feature to inform her staff that due to the lockdown, the busses would be late, and advised them to gather students in the gym after school. After the situation was resolved, another message was sent out through the application informing school staff that the lockdown had been lifted.
“Principal Heimsoth’s quick response and innovative use of the Staff Assist feature kept students and staff safe and informed until the lockdown was lifted and busses continued their routes,” Graeme Kennedy, Marysville School District’s security coordinator, said at the time. “Instantly sharing information with schools is invaluable and made a significant difference in this situation.”