HOQUIAM, Wash. (AP) — A 20-hour standoff between police in a Washington coastal town and a man who wounded an officer trying to arrest him on a warrant ended Thursday when the suspect died in a gunbattle with a SWAT team as his house went up in flames.
The armed man had a gas mask and a ballistic helmet, indicating he had prepared for a confrontation, Hoquiam Sgt. Brian Dayton said.
The question is why.
"We have no idea what made the guy take it to such an extreme level," Dayton said. "No reason as to why it escalated."
The 49-year-old man and his 53-year-old wife, whose names were not released, were wanted on arrest warrants out of Sacramento, Calif., for fraud, Dayton said.
The wife owned the home, and the couple had lived in Hoquiam since 2004. The man wasn't suspected of any crimes locally, Dayton said.
Officers went to the home Tuesday and arrested the woman on a warrant. She remains in the Grays Harbor County Jail.
The man gave a false identification, but officers figured it out and returned Wednesday morning to arrest him.
"He engaged in a firefight with the officers on the scene, striking one of our officers," Dayton said.
Sgt. Jeff Salstrom was hit in the hip, but the bullet was slowed by his duty belt, Dayton said. Salstrom was treated at a hospital for a minor wound and released.
The standoff began after Salstrom and another officer returned fire and the suspect retreated into the two-story house, where he holed up on the top floor.
The man yelled back and forth with officers who remained on the first floor, and he told them he was wounded, Dayton said.
Communications broke off in the early evening after the man damaged a police robot that was sent into the home, and the officers went outside.
"The situation became unsafe, and they backed out and started using a public address system," Dayton said.