Jan 24, 2011 at 10:43 AM PST
PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Detectives are investigating why a man ran from deputies and then opened fire in a Walmart parking lot, sparking a shootout that left him and the woman he apparently was with dead and two law officers wounded.
Sunday's violence came after the Kitsap County Sheriff's deputies answered a call about a suspicious person at the store in Port Orchard.
Two deputies located the man and tried to talk to him but he began running, pursued by the officers.
"For reasons not yet known, the suspect turned and fired multiple shots," sheriff's spokesman Scott Wilson said.
Both men were hit and unable to return gunfire, but a female officer arriving on the scene shot and killed the gunman, Wilson said.
The two deputies were in satisfactory condition Sunday night.
Authorities said it wasn't immediately known who shot the woman, who died later at a Tacoma hospital.
The woman, believed to be in her late teens, appeared to be with the gunman.
"We believe that she and the deceased gunman knew each other, that they were together. We just have not yet established what that relationship," Wilson said.
The identities of the dead as well as the three deputies have not been released.
Wilson said detectives are still trying to answer some key questions. The investigation "is real basic right now... The big question of why is unanswered."
Few other details of the violence that erupted about 3:45 p.m. were released, but shoppers described how they saw events unfold.
"I heard one shot, which I thought was a car backfiring, and then several more reported back, which I knew to be gunfire," said witness Victor Meyers.
Another witness, Ray Bourge, said he saw the suspect running through the parking lot towards the woods, firing his gun backwards toward the store.
"I was exiting Walmart and to my left, about 100 feet away, I saw a gentleman running towards the woods there, and right behind him there was an officer chasing him, and he began to open fire," Bourge said.
Witness Destany Droge added: "(The gunman) pulled out a gun and wasn't even watching what he was doing."
Bourge said the officer was about 30 to 40 feet behind the suspect when he started firing.
"Five or six shots were fired. ... I just went and took cover," he said.
The store was immediately locked down. Customers in the store were allowed to leave after investigators questioned them.
The Walmart was closed overnight but re-opened just before 6 a.m. on Monday.
At Tacoma General Hospital, officers from Kitsap County and other departments stopped by to visit the injured officers, and citizens left candles outside.
"I've seen just the one deputy, he's in one of the rooms talking with family and co-workers," said Mark Fulghum of the Tacoma police. "Both of the deputies are going to be fine. They're going to be kept overnight for observation."
The Washington State Patrol is leading the investigation into the incident, with assistance from the FBI.
Autopsies were scheduled Monday for the two people killed. Investigators said the Kitsap County coroner was still trying to confirm the dead man's identity Monday morning.
A blue minivan that apparently belonged to the suspect has been impounded and will be searched for possible evidence, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Krista Hedstrom. The van has out-of-state plates, but Hedstrom didn't know what state.
The deputy who shot the gunman has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure any time a member of law enforcement is involved in a shooting.
|Liveleak on Facebook|