SPANAWAY – The nephew of state auditor Brian Sonntag was shot and killed by Pierce County sheriff’s deputies after a shootout with a Washington State Patrol trooper who was wounded when she tried to arrest him on suspicion of drunken driving early Thursday.
Authorities identified the 24-year-old man who was shot to death as Jack Sonntag.
The trooper, Kelly Kalmbach, 47, was in good condition by midday Thursday after undergoing surgery on gunshot wounds to both legs and her left forearm at Madigan Army Medical Center, state trooper Mark Lewis said.
“It’s a tragic thing,” Brian Sonntag told The Associated Press. “We’re all concerned about my brother and his family. We’re concerned about the State Patrol officer and the deputy sheriffs who had to respond. I know what happened but no one knows why.”
Pierce County Sheriff’s detective Ed Troyer said investigators were certain Jack Sonntag was the motorist who had fired about a dozen rounds at the trooper from a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, based on the trooper’s description, documents, witness accounts and other evidence.
Sonntag never got off a shot at sheriff’s deputies, who opened fire when he ignored warnings and drew a handgun, Troyer said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Both deputies were placed on paid leave, a standard procedure in shootings by law enforcement officers.
Troyer and Lewis told the Associated Press that Kalmbach, a five-year veteran of the patrol, stopped a 2000 Lincoln Town Car by a Union 76 station on Highway 7 just south of an intersection known as the Roy “Y” outside Spanaway.
Following a field sobriety test, Kalmbach told the motorist to put his hands behind his back, but before she could put him in handcuffs, “he fought his way free, ran to his car, got a gun and started shooting,” Troyer said.
Crouching behind her patrol car, which was hit by five to seven slugs, Kalmbach fired her .40-caliber semiautomatic service weapon as the man fled, flattening one of his tires and hitting his car numerous times.
“She may have hit him, too,” Troyer said. “We won’t know that until after the autopsy.”
Kalmbach radioed twice for aid, first to request assistance in the arrest and then after the shooting, and she remained conscious as a woman and her son who had stopped for gasoline helped bandage her wounds and when an ambulance arrived, Lewis said.
Less than 15 minutes later, deputies saw a man matching the description she’d given walking in the driveway of Bethel Baptist Church in Spanaway, Troyer said.
Despite warnings from the deputies, he “behaved aggressively,” pulled a gun from his pants and was shot dead, Troyer said.
Brian Sonntag said his nephew had never been arrested and enjoyed his job as an auto mechanic. “I don’t think he had any issues,” Brian Sonntag said.