MUKILTEO — The crime scene tape seemed out of place, looped to a rockery and “No Outlet” sign at the entrance to a cul de sac in the affluent and tight-knit neighborhood overlooking the Puget Sound.
From their living room, Mike and Linda Bloom look out at the pristine waterway from the home they had built 38 years ago.
“It is as quiet and beautiful as it seems,” she said late Saturday, hours after a young gunman shot four acquaintances, killing three, down the street. “People look after each other here.”
That tranquility was shattered around midnight Saturday. Witnesses described hearing more than a dozen shots, but it was difficult for them to comprehend that the sounds could have come from such a violent act. Only when the sirens wailed a few minutes later did it begin to seem real.
Official confirmation about the identities of the victims was not immediately available. All were known to have ties to Kamiak High School. One of the most expensive campuses in the state when it was built, it has produced dozens of National Merit Finalists and Ivy League scholars over the years.
A 2015 Kamiak grad, Allen Christopher Ivanov, 19, was booked Saturday afternoon for investigation of one count of aggravated murder and two counts of first-degree murder.
Linda Bloom was sewing and watching “Doc Martin” on television when she heard what she assumed were firecrackers. It was a hot night and she kept the door open for the breeze.
Next door, Jon Hager and his wife had been entertaining a guest. His parents moved into the house in the 1970s. He recently moved back after his mother died.
Police told Hager to go inside and lock his doors. Hager called Bloom and urged her to do the same.
“It was so loud,” Hager said. “They really cracked. I knew right away they weren’t fireworks.”
He soon learned what had happened so close to his home.
“My heart just sank,” he said. “It’s young people just starting out.”
The shootings sent shock waves across the town. In Mukilteo, an Indian word for “good camping,” the median housing price is a half million dollars. The prices are higher closer to the water. It was hard for police to remember an attack like the one Saturday night beyond a murder-suicide more than a decade ago.
“Our community has been shaken to its core,” Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said. “For too many families in our community, their lives have been changed forever by this cruel act of violence.”
On Chennault Beach Drive, purple tulips tied by purple ribbons hung from four trees, representing each of the victims and the Kamiak school colors.
The shooting occurred at a late night gathering off 64th Place W and Webster Way. As many as 20 witnesses were interviewed, Mukilteo police officer Myron Travis said.
“We don’t have any reason to believe anyone else was involved at this time,” he said.
Ages and other details about those killed were not immediately available. Although names of potential victims were being passed around on social media Saturday — and motive attached to the killings — police declined to provide confirmation.
‘Grace and space’
Gregerson asked for “a little grace and a little space” while police tried to ensure that the victims and their families received the care they needed.
The gunfire occurred during a gathering at a home along a dead-end street that forks off of Chennault Beach Drive. Police were called just after midnight for reports of shots fired, Travis said.
The first 911 calls were made at 12:08 a.m. Police and medics were on the scene less than 10 minutes later. Three people were dead at the scene.
The surviving victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle within four minutes of when medics arrived. He was listed in serious condition in intensive care Saturday, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Police and firefighters told parents they could pick up their children at a reunification center at the nearby Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints near Kamiak High School. A few hours later, no one remained at the site. The center was then closed and the space was returned to church leaders.
Mukilteo police issued a regional bulletin to law enforcement seeking the suspected shooter. He was arrested in Lewis County just before 2 a.m., said trooper William Finn with the Washington State Patrol. He was stopped on southbound I-5 in a 2016 Subaru WRX near the southern city limits of Chehalis, about 100 miles south of Mukilteo.
The suspect reportedly had been traveling 68 mph in a 50 mph stretch of the highway, Finn said. He was the only person in the car. Arrangements were made to take the man and the vehicle back to Mukilteo, Finn said.
At a press conference Saturday, Travis did not release the suspect’s name, citing the need to maintain the integrity of the investigation. He also declined to discuss what is known about the victims, including their ages.
“I have no information regarding motive,” he said at one point.
He said the suspect would be jailed for investigation of murder before the afternoon was out. Jail records show Ivanov was booked about the time the press conference was wrapping up.
On a LinkedIn page, Ivanov was described as a computer science and engineering student at the University of Washington.
Travis urged anyone with information about the shooting to call 425-775-3000.
Mukilteo City Council President Bob Champion lives in the neighborhood where the killings occurred. He heard the shots ring out just after midnight.
“I was lying in bed,” he said. “It’s a distinctive sound. There were multiple shots fired.”
Champion said there may have been as many as 18 shots fired. “I knew something bad had happened.”
Dennis Swanson, who lives nearby, offered a similar account. He first thought it was someone hammering, but minutes later he could hear the sirens from the top of the hill heading toward the water.
He said he heard what sounded like a dozen shots, about 30 seconds of silence and then several more rounds.
Young people Saturday were taking to social media to share thoughts and ask for prayers for their town. Several said they were waiting to find out if their friends were involved. Most of those with a direct connection to Mukilteo were in college, though some were students at Kamiak High School, according to their profiles.
Some were reacting to tweets that apparently were posted to Ivanov’s Twitter account in the days leading up to the shootings. “What’s Ruger gonna think?” one alleged Ivanov Tweet read.
Bill Swedish is a retiree who has lived in the neighborhood for 16 years.
“We thought we heard something, but we just dismissed it,” he said. “It is a very quiet and pleasant neighborhood. This is very disturbing.”
Drew Mosher, who lives more than a mile away, woke up to sirens shortly after midnight. They lasted about 15 minutes and “just kept coming,” he said.
“I figured it was a fire. I knew it sure had to be something big,” Mosher said.
The Associated Press quoted a Mukilteo woman who said her granddaughter was in the home when the bullets began flying.
“She was hiding in the closet and called me from the closet while it was going on,” Susan Gemmer said of her 18-year-old granddaughter, Alexis. “We were texting back and forth, telling her to stay quiet, stay calm, we’re on our way. She kept saying, ‘They’re dead, they’re dead, I saw them, I was right there and I saw them.’ “
Gemmer said that according to her granddaughter, the gunman arrived with a rifle at the party of about 15 to 20 friends from Kamiak High School — mostly recent graduates aged 18 to 20. The gunman walked through the house to the fire pit out back, where he shot two of the victims. Those present knew the gunman, she said, and he and one of the victims had broken up last week.
The shooter then made his way onto the roof, where some of the friends were hanging out, Gemmer said.
The young man who lived at the home tried to lead Alexis Gemmer to safety by escaping out the garage. As they rolled under the garage door and the boy bolted across the street, the gunman began shooting at him from the roof, her granddaughter told Gemmer.
“She panicked and ran back in the house and hid in the closet until police arrived,” Gemmer said. The young man made it across the street.
Saturday’s killings were the worst outburst of violence in Snohomish County since October 2014, when a student at Marysville Pilchuck High School pulled a handgun from his backpack and opened fire. He shot five friends, four fatally, before ending his own life.
Gov. Jay Inslee said he and his wife, Trudi, were praying for those harmed by Saturday’s violence in Mukilteo.
“These victims were just starting the new chapter of their lives as young adults. Such a loss is difficult to comprehend and we know the hearts of every Washingtonian go out to their grieving mothers and fathers,” he said in a prepared statement.
County Executive Dave Somers, Sheriff Ty Trenary and County Councilman Brian Sullivan released a joint statement.
“We are stunned and saddened by the shooting in Mukilteo that left so many families devastated and our community shaken to its core,” they wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is assisting the Mukilteo Police Department. On behalf of Snohomish County, we offer whatever assistance we can to those who have suffered this tragedy.”
The county Medical Examiner’s Office was expected to take custody of the bodies and confirm their identities. The medical examiner’s office Saturday said it would not be releasing any additional information about the death investigations until at least Monday afternoon, pending autopsies.
Mukilteo investigators are thankful for the assistance they have received from neighboring departments after an incident that “sends a shock wave through the community,” Travis said.
“It’s a heart-breaking, terrible occurrence,” Gregerson said. “It’s important for us to be there with our thoughts and prayers for the families who suffered a great loss last night.”
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those affected by the shooting in Mukilteo, a crisis line is available: 425-258-1352.
Shootings vigil planned
A vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 11001 Harbour Point Blvd, Mukilteo.
Statement from Mayor Jennifer Gregerson
Here’s the full text of Mukilteo’s mayor comments at a press conference regarding Saturday’s shootings.
“This has been a difficult day for our community. As I shared last night, our community has been shaken to its core. For too many families in our community—their lives have been changed forever by this cruel act of violence.
“But in the midst of this pain, I wanted to take a moment and highlight some of the amazing things we’ve witnessed in the last 12 hours. I want to start by highlighting the incredible bravery and selflessness of our officers and firefighters who responded. I have the privilege of swearing in every new member of our police and fire department, and last night—they served us well.
“Four minutes after our first ambulance arrived at the scene, our one surviving victim was on their way to Harborview. The crews who responded knew their mission, were trained and ready, and we are so grateful to them.
“We have also benefited from the amazing outpouring of support from our partner agencies. Mukilteo is a small community and we could not have managed a tragedy of this scale on our own. I spoke with Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this morning, he shared his commitment to ensure we have adequate resources and I thanked him for the help and support of the Washington State Patrol throughout this incident.
“We are also grateful to our neighbor agencies in Everett, Brier, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, and Snohomish Fire District 1 for all the help they have provided. Our community is so grateful for your support.
“And our community has been amazing as well. Neighbors helping neighbors, friends comforting those who are grieving. In that spirit, there will be a community-wide vigil tomorrow night at 7pm at the LDS Church, I look forward to participating and I hope that we can all take time to send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. We are a strong community, we will make it through the difficult days ahead — together.
“Finally, I would like to repeat some comments I made last night. I know that everyone has lots of questions about this incident. What happened? Who was involved? Why did it happen? These questions are natural and we understand. But, this is an ongoing investigation, we have a suspect in custody, we cannot do anything to jeopardize the investigation or the process of the criminal justice system. So, I hope the members of the media will give us a little grace and little space right now while we do our very best to ensure that the victims and their families are cared for, and justice is done in this case.”