May 22, 2012
NEW — 8 a.m. May 22, 2012
Just after 11 on a September morning, as Ronald W. Ficker meandered on a fateful trek from a downtown Issaquah intersection to Clark Elementary School, Leslie Olerich stared down the barrel of Ficker’s rifle.
“He looked right at us, looked down the barrel and he smiled,” Olerich said Monday at a court hearing about the Sept. 24 incident.
Issaquah police fatally shot Ficker, 51, after the rural Maple Valley man abandoned a rental car at a downtown intersection and, carrying rifles and ammunition, set off in the direction of school campuses and, along the way, brandished firearms to passers-by.
Olerich testified Monday at a King County-led inquest into the actions of police officers involved in the shootout — Laura Asbell, Brian Horn, Christian Muñoz and Jesse Petersen.
May 15, 2012
Inquest into police shootout starts May 21
The rough outlines resemble doodles more than a far-fetched blueprint, and the instructions on the page defy explanation.
In hand-scrawled notes about a manmade island scattered among the sketches, the creator urges, “Start building Atlantis.”
The creator later stuffed the notes, sketches and more than $23,000 in Swiss francs into a safe deposit box at the Bank of America branch in Issaquah.
The stack of documents contained instructions for the reader.
“If I get hurt, must take this to police.”
The sentence outlined the future. The man behind the notes, Ronald W. Ficker, 51, died in a police shootout on the Clark Elementary School campus Sept. 24.
May 15, 2012
Tragedy yields changed perspectives
Memories from the afternoon remain fresh months after the last gunshots echoed across the Clark Elementary School campus, even as the incident recedes deeper into the past.
Downtown Issaquah transformed into a crime scene Sept. 24, as a gunman menaced residents and later died in a police shootout.
The incident receded into memory for most people not long afterward. Still, the investigation continued and throughout the process, the events from Sept. 24 remained close to me.
A stack of documents from the King County Sheriff’s Office investigation sits on my desk. Photos from the incident still flicker across my computer screen. I speak to sources about the investigation at least once each week.
The inquest into the incident starts May 21 at the King County Courthouse. I plan to report from the official inquiry into the event, too.
May 8, 2012
In a solemn ceremony not far from the state Capitol, Gov. Chris Gregoire slipped a Law Enforcement Medal of Honor around the necks of police officers involved in a deadly September 2011 shootout at Clark Elementary School.
May 8, 2012
NEW — 12:45 p.m. May 8, 2012
The empty kennels outside a rundown Issaquah house and the sound of dogs barking from inside alerted animal rescue advocates to possible trouble.
Days later, in early October, King County Sheriff’s Office investigators raided the house and discovered 62 Chihuahuas and Japanese Chins inside filthy carriers.
On May 3, King County prosecutors filed animal-cruelty charges against the homeowner, a dog breeder and a past judge for the American Kennel Club, a prestigious registry of purebred dogs. Prosecutors said Issaquah resident Margaret Ann Hamilton, 70, hoarded more than 100 dogs at homes in Issaquah and Burien.
Detective John K. Pavlovich said Hamilton and her since-deceased husband hoarded the animals at a home is in the 5900 block of 189th Avenue Southeast on Cougar Mountain, about a mile south of Cougar Mountain Zoo.
May 1, 2012
Investigators used saliva from a cigarette butt discarded at a murder scene to connect a suspect to the slaying. Recorded jailhouse phone conversations led prosecutors to convict a man for brutal acts of domestic violence. Cellphone data allowed police to trace gang members’ movements before and after a chaotic shooting at a crowded car show.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg delved into recent cases April 17 and outlined the forensic science tools investigators and prosecutors use to lock criminals behind bars.
In a talk given to the Rotary Club of Issaquah, Satterberg offered a presentation akin to “CSI: Issaquah” — down to using the “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” theme music, The Who’s “Who Are You.”
“This has changed the way that we investigate cases. It has given us results that we never thought we’d be able to get to solve cold cases going way back,” he said to the Tibbetts Creek Manor audience. “It has in some ways made the job of the police investigator and the deputy prosecutor more complicated.”
The cigarette butt and a spent shell casing linked gang member Omar Norman to the October 2005 murder of Terrell Milam, a rival gang member.
April 5, 2012
NEW — 8 a.m. April 5, 2012
The proposed $200 million property tax levy to raise funds for a juvenile detention center cleared a King County Council committee Tuesday — a key step to sending the measure to voters.
Budget and Fiscal Management Committee gave a “do-pass” recommendation to a measure to fund a replacement for the aging Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention facility in Seattle. The legislation heads to the full council for final consideration. The council must act by the end of April to place a measure on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.
Led by Councilman Bob Ferguson, council members proposed the nine-year levy. If the levy is placed on the ballot and passed, homeowners should pay about 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $20 per year for a home assessed at $350,000.
December 27, 2011
NEW — 11:10 a.m. Dec. 27, 2011
King County Executive Dow Constantine on Tuesday ordered a prosecutor-led inquest into the lethal shootout at Clark Elementary School — a standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.
The action came a little more than three months after Ronald W. Ficker, 51, trekked across downtown Issaquah, brandishing rifles at passers-by. The bizarre episode ended on the elementary school campus as police officers and Ficker exchanged gunfire.
In the days before the Sept. 24 incident, Ficker told others, “Something big is going to happen.” Then, the day before the shootout, he rented a Kia sedan at a Seattle rental car counter, drove more than 450 miles and, just after 11 a.m. Sept. 24, abandoned the car at a downtown Issaquah intersection and set off to Clark Elementary.
November 29, 2011
Police located items from a U-Haul truck stolen from Issaquah in February and arrested suspects in the case, investigators announced Nov. 22.
The truck contained 1,200 silver coins, 13 firearms and several computer towers. Police recovered the truck in Seattle days after the Feb. 13 heist, but the contents remained missing.
The belongings’ owner, Zack Judson, launched a campaign on the Web and social media services to encourage people to report tips. Meanwhile, Issaquah police investigators identified several suspects involved in the sale or possession of stolen items from the truck.
Prosecutors filed possession of stolen property and trafficking in stolen property charges against five people involved in the case.
Police recovered 10 firearms, 300 silver coins, computer towers and household items. Tukwila police officers and King County Sheriff’s Office deputies assisted in the recovery and arrests.
Judson relocated from California to Washington days before thieves stole the truck from the Hilton Garden Inn parking lot.
November 15, 2011
The former Issaquah insurance agent responsible for stealing more than $1 million from elderly clients to spend on clothing, online psychic advisers and more pleaded guilty Oct. 31.
Jasmine Jamrus-Kassim, 49, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree theft in King County Superior Court. Prosecutors reduced the number of charges from 21 as part of a plea deal.
The victims approved of the plea deal, said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. In some cases, victims’ family members agreed, because the victim had since died.
Prosecutors said Jamrus-Kassim stole at least $1,052,088 between late 2007 and late 2009. The seniors — ranging in age from 74 to 90 — made out checks to Jamrus-Kassim. The clients thought she intended to reinvest the money for them.
Instead, she funneled the money into a personal account for clothes, jewelry and a trip to Mexico.
Court records also show she made large payments to online psychic advisers, including $20,000 to a psychic website in a single month.