Witnesses at police inquest describe chaotic scenes from school shootout

May 29, 2012

Just after 11 a.m. Sept. 24, as Ronald W. Ficker meandered 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 May 21 at a court hearing about the 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.

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How the inquest unfolded to examine Issaquah police officers’ actions

May 29, 2012

The decision from a King County-appointed inquest jury May 23 ended the long investigation set in motion after Ronald W. Ficker abandoned a Kia sedan on a busy downtown Issaquah street.

The inquest process is a fact-finding hearing conducted to determine the circumstances in any officer-involved shooting in the county.

Inquest jurors answer a series of questions, called interrogatories, to determine the facts in the case. Jurors answered 22 interrogatories related to the officers’ actions and Ficker’s death.

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Jurors answered 22 interrogatories in Issaquah police inquest

May 29, 2012

Jurors answered a series of 22 questions, or interrogatories, in the inquest into the September death of Ronald W. Ficker.

Jurors could answer yes, no or unknown. The six-member jury ruled unanimously on all 22 questions.

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Jurors rule in favor of officers in Issaquah police inquest

May 23, 2012

Issaquah Officer Brian Horn uses a map to indicate key locations Tuesday at the inquest into the death of Ronald W. Ficker in a September shootout against Horn and other officers. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 6 p.m. May 23, 2012

Jurors deliberated only 19 minutes Wednesday before determining Issaquah police officers faced a life-threatening scenario and properly used lethal force to stop a rifle-toting man on the Clark Elementary School campus last year.

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Officers feared Issaquah gunman could escape, shoot bystanders

May 23, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. May 23, 2012

Police involved in a shootout at Clark Elementary School feared the gunman could escape from the campus and shoot bystanders in surrounding neighborhoods, and resorted to lethal force to eliminate the threat, officers involved in the shooting testified at a court hearing Tuesday.

Police fatally shot Ronald W. Ficker, 51, in late September 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. Moments later, at about 11:30 a.m. Sept. 24, Ficker shot at bystanders and police officers on the Clark Elementary campus.

The tense moments after Ficker reached the school grounds formed the basis for the Tuesday testimony at a King County-led inquest into the actions of officers involved in the shootout — Laura Asbell, Brian Horn, Christian Muñoz and Jesse Petersen.

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Inquest opens to examine Clark Elementary School shootout

May 22, 2012

King County authorities started to examine the actions of Issaquah police officers involved in a deadly September 2011 shootout at Clark Elementary School as a prosecutor-led inquest opened May 21.

The officers shot and killed Ronald W. Ficker, 51, after the rural Maple Valley man abandoned a rental car at a downtown Issaquah intersection and, brandishing rifles and carrying ammunition, set off in the direction of school campuses.

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Witnesses at police inquest describe strange scenes from school shootout

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.

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Strange behavior shaped Issaquah gunman’s final days

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.

Ronald Ficker

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.

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Off the Press

May 15, 2012

Tragedy yields changed perspectives

Warren Kagarise Press reporter

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.

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Issaquah police officers earn top law enforcement honor

May 8, 2012

Officer Jesse Petersen, Cpl. Christian Munoz, and officers Brian Horn and Laura Asbell (from left) stand at the Washington Law Enforcement Memorial after receiving the Law Enforcement Medal of Honor in a May 4 ceremony in Olympia. By Jacqueline Kerness/Issaquah Police Department

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.

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