Victim struggled with gunman

MILL CREEK — The teenager who died early Sunday outside a Mill Creek-area Halloween party apparently was struggling with the gunman before the fatal shot was fired, according to a police report filed Monday in Everett District Court.

Relatives of Christopher Chandler, 17, of Kirkland said he was a good young man who was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Witnesses told police Chandler was leaving a party in the 16400 block of 36th Avenue SE just before 1 a.m. Just around the corner, Chandler drove up on a fight and got out of his car, court documents said.

One man had a handgun. Chandler wrestled with the man and blows were exchanged. The man with the gun was knocked down and fired a shot as he fell to the ground, the documents said.

Witnesses pointed sheriff’s deputies back to the Halloween party where the alleged gunman was identified, the documents said.

When police arrested Bryce D. Fortier, 22, of Ellensburg, they spotted blood stains on his shirt.

On Monday, Fortier made a brief video appearance in Everett District Court.

Judge Tam Bui set bail at $500,000. Defense attorney Pete Mazzone said he will argue the bail amount at a later hearing.

Sheriff’s detectives still were trying Monday to determine what problem, if any, existed between Fortier and Chandler, said David Bales, bureau chief for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

“We don’t know whether this is something that developed earlier that spread out into the street or whether it was something that happened after the party broke out,” he said.

Three roommates who shared the home on 36th Avenue invited their own friends to the party, he said.

“There was a diverse group of friends and it’s likely that people didn’t know each other,” Bales said.

Detectives interviewed as many as 40 people who attended the party, he said.

Inside the home, detectives recovered a large-caliber handgun and ammunition, documents said.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy Monday but withheld the findings pending further investigation.

Several of Chandler’s relatives attended Fortier’s afternoon court hearing Monday.

Afterward, they remembered Chandler as a kind and good young man who wanted to become an electrical engineer.

“He was always there for me,” said his grandmother, Louise Chandler of Kirkland. “He had a lot of friends and that attests to the kind of person he was.”

When she had surgery, it was Chris Chandler who came over to help, she said.

Although his parents were divorced, she said they both took part in raising the teenager and his two older brothers.

“Chris was so much a part of his family,” the grandmother said. “Chris was very much a family kid.”

He had been living in Kirkland, attending Lake Washington Vocational Technical College and working in the dietary department of an assisted-living retirement home.

Chris Chandler had gone to the Halloween party near Mill Creek and was leaving when he stopped to intervene in the fight, his older brother, Nathan, 24, said.

“Chris was in the wrong place at the wrong time, I guess,” he said. Bad things happen to good people all the time, “but you don’t expect it to hit so close to home.”

Candles flickered at a makeshift memorial at the side of the road near where Chandler fell Sunday night.

A baseball cap, flowers, rosary beads and handwritten notes surrounded a picture of the teenager.

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or

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