EVERETT — Hans Hansen set out to kill police officers, wanting to cause “maximum damage” before bringing about the death he desired, according to prosecutors. But according to his attorney, Hansen was a sad, broken man who wanted only for officers to end his life, so he wouldn’t have to commit suicide, a sin in his religion.
Starting Tuesday, jurors will begin deliberating over 11 felony charges, including two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Hansen, 44, is accused of shooting one officer in October 2014 and firing dozens of bullets at other police, plus their cars and buildings. The three-week trial in Snohomish County Superior Court has been “long and grueling,” deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler said in closing arguments Monday.
Hansen was losing his health, his business and his marriage. He and his wife had quit paying their mortgage about a year earlier, and Hansen expected deputies to arrive any day to evict them, Stemler said.
Hansen had considered waiting to shoot at deputies during the eviction, he reportedly told detectives. Instead, Hansen went “looking for targets that he was mad at that night,” Stemler said. “He was looking for people to share in his misery.” Hansen brought thousands of bullets “for the mayhem and destruction he had in mind,” and fired at least four guns that night, including two AK-47s, Stemler said.
After shooting at police stations in Granite Falls and Lake Stevens, Hansen fired one of the AK-47s at least 33 times at Marysville police officers James Tolbert and Bronwyn Kieland, Stemler said. Moments later, Marysville Sgt. James Maples was shot in the leg.
Hansen’s defense attorney, Jon Scott, argued that Hansen was not aiming at the officers but only their patrol cars. If Hansen really wanted to kill people, he would have brought a more accurate weapon, and the spray of bullets wouldn’t have been all over the place, Scott said.
Marysville police ultimately set up a marksman to stop Hansen. The marksman shot Hansen in the head. Hansen urged paramedics and, later, emergency room staff to let him die.
Scott on Monday told jurors a more just result would be to convict Hansen of recklessly discharging a weapon or drive-by shooting. Hansen was drunk that night and suffering from depression and anxiety, Scott said.
Hansen’s wife testified Monday morning that her husband, already upset about his failing cabinet business, fell into a deeper depression in September 2014. That’s when a doctor advised Hansen that his leg likely would need to be amputated because of ongoing vascular problems. Hansen had undergone three surgeries since 2011 when he first had pain in his leg. He started collecting guns as a “security blanket,” Scott said.
“Everything he was as a man, he watched it going away,” Scott said.
Hansen’s family members put their arms around each other and cried as Scott described Hansen as hopeless and irrational, but not murderous.
Stemler, however, argued that each pull of the trigger was an intentional act to harm someone.
“It’s amazing no one was killed in this incident,” the prosecutor said.
Stemler and Scott agreed that Hansen never expected to survive the melee.
Scott showed jurors a picture of Hansen with his head bandaged up from a gunshot wound.
“This is what rock bottom looks like,” Scott said. “His life is falling apart. He goes out and tries to get himself killed and he ends up here.”
Reporter Diana Hefley contributed to this story.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.