VERLOT — In one hand, the man reportedly held up a hatchet.
In the other, he had a knife pressed against his throat.
He told Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies to kill him. He moved toward them, looking ready to attack when deputies shot him on the Mountain Loop Highway on Feb. 12, 2018, according to documents obtained by The Daily Herald through public records requests.
He survived two bullets: One in the leg and one in the chest.
A report detailing an investigation by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team gives insight into what led the Lynnwood man, now 35, to confront deputies. SMART is a task force of detectives assigned to cases where police have used potentially fatal force. The deputies had gone to intervene after the man’s friends reported that he was acting erratically and roaming the area near Barlow Pass.
The man appeared to grow increasingly troubled after Child Protective Services investigated him in December 2017 for allegedly molesting a young relative. In divorce papers, his wife suggested that it was ultimately what led him to tell people he was going to kill himself before his face-off with law enforcement.
In a letter written in May, Whatcom County prosecutor Dave McEachran said the use of force was legally justified. He wrote in a four-page decision that “both deputies realized the threat that (the defendant) posed to them and both fired their weapons.”
Normally, SMART cases are reviewed by the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office. This one was forwarded to Whatcom “out of an abundance of caution,” Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell said, due to a potential conflict of interest between his office and the sheriff’s office.
The man pleaded guilty in October to second-degree assault and was released with credit for time served. He was booked into the Snohomish County Jail again the same month, when he was charged with first-degree child molestation related to the CPS case.
He remained behind bars Tuesday, with bail set to $500,000. A trial is scheduled for July.
The newspaper avoids naming suspects when doing so might identify victims of alleged sexual abuse.
In the months and days before he was shot, the defendant had become threatening toward his wife and allegedly violated a no-contact order against him, SMART detectives reported.
In text messages to friends, the man denied accusations against him and blamed his wife for ruining their marriage. In a Facebook post, he wrote that there are “days where I want to set your (expletive) face on fire and try putting it out with a fork.” He texted a friend, “I cannot acquire a pistol otherwise I would take her life and mine because of the lies.”
The defendant can’t possess firearms because he has previous felony criminal history, including burglary, theft and possession of stolen property.
His wife said she found a derogatory word for women etched in the front door of her Everett apartment. She was messaged from an anonymous Snapchat account that may have belonged to the defendant. And someone vandalized her car with fish oil and fish bait, causing an irremovable stench.
The day the man was shot, he had been crying, but was calm when he left his parents’ house, according to his father. He got tacos and beers with an acquaintance. Later on, the defendant reportedly shouted expletives at his wife as he drove past her work.
Around 5 p.m., he sent messages to his friends, saying he was going to kill himself where he, his wife and her daughter first went camping: near the Big Four Ice Caves.
One of his friends went out to the trailhead to find him. He blasted by her going about 70 mph in a truck, nearly forcing her off the road, she said.
She found him near the gate at Barlow Pass, where the highway turns to gravel. She could smell alcohol on his breath. He headed down to the river, dropping some rope and a growler along the way.
The woman grabbed the rope and went back toward town to get cell service. She told 911 that the defendant might try to force cops to shoot him.
When the deputies arrived, the defendant was sitting in his truck. He told them that he wasn’t getting out, and they would have to kill him.
He grabbed a knife and ax. He reportedly said, “Kill me or I will kill myself.” He got out of the vehicle and walked toward the deputies.
One deputy hit him with a stun gun from about 6 feet away, detectives wrote.
At the same time, another deputy fired a gun twice, documents say. The man fell forward, hitting his head on the pavement.
He remained conscious when deputies applied first aid. He told them to shoot him in the head over a dozen times.
At the hospital, he told detectives he was being “very stupid” and should have left the weapons in the truck.
“Guess I got what I deserved,” he said as the detectives left the room.
Police records generally are not available to the public until the case is considered closed. In November, the newspaper was told that some of the filings were pending and those documents were not released until December.
It is not clear why the prosecutor made his decision in May, while detectives continued to gather information.
Reporters Caleb Hutton and Rikki King contributed to this story.