Man who blamed intruder actually shot himself, detectives say

SNOHOMISH — Detectives believe a Snohomish man was lying about there being an intruder in his apartment when he was shot with his own gun last month.

Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives have closed the case and labeled the man’s claims “unfounded.” The investigation didn’t turn up any evidence of an intruder, and the Snohomish man’s story “lacked credibility,” detective Tedd Betts wrote in a Feb. 17 report.

Detectives suspect that the man accidentally shot himself in the stomach Feb. 1 inside his downtown Snohomish apartment.

The sheriff’s office does not intend to pursue any criminal charges.

“We’re not recommending any charges because our detectives have real victims of real crimes that they would like to focus on,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said.

The case has already taken up a great deal of time and effort, she said.

The man, who worked as a security guard, reported coming home after the Super Bowl to find a stranger in one of the bedrooms. The man told detectives that he raced to get his gun from his closet and was attacked. He said the pistol went off during the struggle.

Detectives say the man changed his story over time. He told friends that the stranger was holding the gun when he encountered him. Phone records also revealed that he dialed 911, but hung up, about 30 minutes before he called back to report he had been shot.

When confronted about the first call, the man gave a few different explanations but they didn’t match his original story, Betts wrote.

A neighbor who was out walking his dog saw the first police officer arrive but didn’t see anyone running from the apartment. Police dogs were unable to track a suspect. There were no signs that someone broke in and nothing was missing from the apartment, records show.

The man couldn’t explain why his earmuffs for shooting were in the bathroom on top of the coat he said he’d been wearing when he walked into his apartment.

The man, 22, has remained adamant that he was shot during a break-in. He gave an interview to a Seattle television station Feb. 13, saying he was terrified to return to his apartment.

He continued to stick to his story even after detectives confronted him with evidence that didn’t match his version of events.

He also declined to take a polygraph examination, saying, “I think it’s in my best interests to not take a polygraph. They aren’t admissable in court.”

His friends told police they believe he was telling the truth.

Betts reported his concerns about the man’s story to the state Department of Labor and Industries. The man had filed a claim seeking compensation as a victim of a violent crime.

It’s unclear if the state will investigate the man’s application now that detectives have closed the case.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; Twitter: @dianahefley.

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