EVERETT — An Everett grandfather who wrestled a suspected thief to the ground Tuesday hoping to restrain him for police said he feels bad for the young man’s family that the struggle ended in death.
“As a parent, I really empathize with his parents,” the man, 67, said while sitting on his co
ncrete front porch Wednesday morning. “Our kids, right or wrong, they are our kids.”
The retired carpenter, who said he lives with arthritis and has two artificial hips, spoke about the fatal encounter on the condition his name and photograph were not used for this story. The man was stiff and sore from the ordeal the day before, and still had a bruised and swollen lip.
“I had no intent for this to escalate to this extent,” he said.
Detectives from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office are continuing to investigate. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner has not released the name of the man who died.
The man who died, believed to be 23, of Everett, is a longtime, close friend of the older man’s nephew. The older man said he first met him just a few days ago. He asked his new acquaintance for help moving an old basketball hoop. He also loaned the younger man some tools.
On Saturday, the young man paid him a visit and spent about a half hour in his house, located in the 400 block of 117th St. SE, near Mariner High School. Later, the older man said he noticed items missing from his boat, which was parked in a gravel driveway in front of the house. The other man’s hat was on the boat and the older man suspected that he may have stolen from him.
He didn’t report that to police, figuring he later would try to embarrass the young man in front of his nephew into returning the missing items.
On Tuesday afternoon, the older man was in the back yard trying to work on his car. His dog, Sam, a 13-year-old boxer mix, started growling.
That seemed odd.
“She never growls,” he said. “She didn’t bark. She just growled.”
He thought it might be a delivery truck driver dropping off a package.
When he went to the front yard, he said the younger man was trying to remove an outdoor motor from his boat.
“You don’t expect trouble in the middle of the afternoon,” the man said. “I let him know he was going to face the cops. At that point I was not going to let him leave.”
The younger man made it clear he had no plans to stick around, the retiree said.
Punches were exchanged.
“I remember being on the losing end of slinging fists,” he said. “…I was taking a real shellacking.”
The older man, who stands about 5 foot 10 and weighs around 220 pounds, said he eventually was able to get on top of the suspected thief. His foe was about his height but probably about 50 pounds lighter.
The older man said he wrapped an arm around the younger man’s neck and tried to stay on top of him.
“I was scared to death he was going to get up,” he said. “Truthfully, I’m not fighting. I’m hanging on … I hung on because I was scared.”
At one point, the younger man seemed to lose energy and give up, he said. The older man said he left him there while he retrieved some wire to bind his wrists,. His plan was to secure the man for police.
When he returned with the wire they fought some more, the grandfather said. He eventually was able to restrain the younger man’s wrists with the wire. He asked a neighbor to call 911.
“That’s when I began to realize this wasn’t going to have a good end,” he said.
The younger man was unresponsive when police arrived. Paramedics came to his aid, but he died at the scene.
“There were no obvious signs of trauma to the suspect,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said.
The older man was treated and released from Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
On Wednesday, he said he had no idea how long the struggle lasted.
“He never said a word,” he said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org