BELFAIR, Wash. – A police officer who received a call from a someone saying he had shot his family went to a rural Washington state home with backup and found the man armed — the beginning of an hourslong standoff that ended when the man committed suicide.
The gunman killed four people before taking his own life, authorities said Friday. A 12-year-old girl related to the victims survived and was taken to the hospital for an evaluation, Mason County sheriff's Chief Deputy Ryan Spurling said. Her condition was not immediately known.
"Apparently she's OK," Spurling said. "I don't know if this is a daughter, or stepdaughter, or what the relationship is, but she escaped from the house."
The officer who took the shooter's call had had dealings with the man before, authorities said. The officer went to the home across Puget Sound from Seattle with another deputy.
"They took cover fearing for their own safety, not knowing exactly what they were getting into. That's when they set up a perimeter, not allowing the individual to go to other residences or endanger other people and called in reinforcements," Spurling said.
Authorities negotiated with the man for about three hours Friday before a SWAT team entered the house in a heavily wooded area and found the bodies.
The gunman "apparently came outside the home and shot himself," Sheriff Casey Salisbury said. "It's a terrible tragedy."
Neither the gunman nor his four victims have been identified, though authorities were expected to release more information Saturday. Police did not detail the previous interaction between the shooter and the officer he called.
Jack Pigott, who lives down the road, said he heard gunshots Thursday night but none Friday.
The couple who lived in the house about 25 miles southwest of Seattle had been married for four or five years, Pigott said. The wife had two teenage sons who were adopted from Russia during a previous marriage. She also had a daughter who was adopted from China.
Pigott said the husband had a heating and air conditioning contractor business. He had recently been hospitalized, Pigott said, but he didn't know why. When he returned home, he was on a lot of medications, Pigott said of the man.
It was common for the family to do shooting practice, Pigott said, and that's what he thought of when he heard the gunfire.
"I was getting a load of wood into the house, and I hear some gunshots," he said. "Four or five, a pause and then another round."
Pigott said residents know each other in the area that has homes with large lots with room for horses.
"It's actually really scary because when you live out like this, you want to feel like your neighbors are someone you can rely on, not somebody you have to be afraid of because we are out in a secluded area," said another neighbor, Lynn Johnson.
Bellisle reported from Seattle. Associated Press reporter Donna Blankinship in Seattle and photographer Ted Warren in Belfair contributed to this story.