Police: Store shooter fired first

Associated Press

BELLEVUE – A robbery suspect shot and killed by police in an upscale mall here fired the first shot, police said Wednesday.

A 23-year-old Bellevue man was fatally shot Tuesday at the Nordstrom Grill restaurant while officers were trying to arrest him after a bank robbery earlier in the day.

The dead man was Airen Lee Weaver, a King County medical examiner’s spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Bellevue police identified the two officers as Mike Hetle, 33, and Dwight Hunter, 30. The officers fired about four times after the man they were pursuing fired at least two shots at Hunter, said Marcia Harnden, Bellevue police spokeswoman.

Lunchtime diners and employees ducked for cover.

“We were just enjoying our soup, and police stormed into the place and told everyone to get down, and the shooting started,” customer Kathryn Akita told a Seattle newspaper.

The restaurant is on the second floor, near the men’s suits department, in the upscale apparel store at Bellevue Square, a 200-store mall in the center of this city east of Seattle. Police were searching the mall after the robbery of a Bank of America branch a few blocks away.

A man entered the bank branch at 11 a.m. Tuesday, displayed a gun and told everyone to get down. He ran off with an undisclosed amount of money.

Shopping center officials were told shortly thereafter that he was seen heading toward the mall, said Jennifer Leavitt, mall vice president for marketing.

A man matching the robber’s description entered the Nordstrom Grill, changed clothes in a restroom and took a table at the rear, facing the swinging saloon-style doors. He ordered a soft drink, vegetarian sandwich and a dessert and sat at a back table, fidgeting.

When the man saw the police, “he jumped up and pulled his gun and tried to make a break for the restroom. But he didn’t get that far,” Akita said.

Harnden said the man was sitting in the cafe when police arrived and then ran to the back hallway, where another officer was waiting.

Hetle and Hunter were described as veterans. Neither had been involved in a shooting before, Harnden said.

Both officers were placed on paid leave. An internal police committee will evaluate the shooting.

“The chief is standing 100 percent behind the officers and their actions,” Harnden said. “We’re very sorry that the suspect had to die in this, but he left us no other choice.”

Harnden said money was found in the man’s backpack, but she did not say how much.

Because of the money, the man’s description and the type of handgun he was carrying, police said they were certain he was the bank robber.

“You realize when you go out and you drive or fly in an airplane that something might happen, but not while having lunch in Nordstrom,” Akita said. “It was a surreal experience.”

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

John Pederson lifts a flag in the air while himself and other maintenance crew set up flags for Memorial Day at Floral Hills Cemetery on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Volunteers place thousands of flags by veterans’ graves in Lynnwood

Ahead of Memorial Day, local veterans ensure fellow military service members are never forgotten.

Brian Hennessy leads a demonstration of equipment used in fire training at the Maritime Institute in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘Ready to go full sail’: Maritime Institute embarks at Port of Everett

The training facility offers Coast Guard-certified courses for recreational boaters and commerical vessel operators.

George Beard poses for a photo outside of the the Stanwood Library in Stanwood, Washington on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
From sick to the streets: How an illness left a Stanwood man homeless

Medical bills wiped out George Beard’s savings. Left to heal in his car, he got sicker. Now, he’s desperate for housing. It could take years.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit says Snohomish County deputies not justified in Sultan shooting

Two deputies repeatedly shot an unarmed Sultan man last year, body camera video shows. An internal investigation is pending.

An airplane is parked at Gate M9 on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. (Jordan Hansen/The Herald)
Good luck to Memorial Day travelers: If you’re like me, you’ll need it

I spent a night in the Chicago airport. I wouldn’t recommend it — but with flight delays near an all-time high, you might want to pack a pillow.

toon
Editorial cartoons for Friday, May 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Cascade’s Mia Walker, right, cries and hugs teammate Allison Gehrig after beating Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seniors Wilson, Tripp power Cascade softball past Gig Harbor

The pair combined for three homers as the Bruins won the Class 3A state softball opening-round game.

The original Mountlake Terrace City Council, Patricia Neibel bottom right, with city attorney, sign incorporation ordinance in 1954. (Photo provided by the City of Mountlake Terrace)
Patricia Neibel, last inaugural MLT council member, dies at 97

The first woman on the council lived by the motto, “Why not me?” — on the council, at a sheriff’s office in Florida, or at a leper colony in Thailand.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.