Issaquah police honored for conduct during shootout

March 20, 2012

The police officers involved in the deadly September 2011 shootout at Clark Elementary School earned a national honor for the incident, city officials announced March 15.

Officers involved in the shooting earned the Washington honorable mention award at the National Association of Police Organizations’ TOP COPS Awards.

The ceremony is scheduled for May 12 in Washington, D.C.

Each year, the association recognizes law enforcement officers from federal, state, county and local agencies for acts of bravery, courage and outstanding service during the preceding year. The organization reviews hundreds of submissions from throughout the county to identify the top 10 cases to appoint as TOP COPS. Of the cases not selected, one case from each state is selected for honorable mention.

The organization recognized Officer Brian Horn, Officer Jesse Petersen, Officer Laura Asbell, Officer Tom Griffith, Cpl. Christian Munoz and Sgt. Chris Wilson.

Meanwhile, a King County prosecutor-led inquest is poised to review the officers’ actions in the gun battle — a standard procedure in officer-involved shootings. The shooter in the incident, Ronald W. Ficker, 51, was killed.

Inquest ordered in Issaquah police shooting

January 3, 2012

Jury is assigned to fact-finding mission in death of gunman

The search for more information about a lethal September shootout on the Clark Elementary School campus is due to deepen soon, as a court inquest into the officer-involved incident opens.

Ronald W. Ficker, 51, died in a firefight against Issaquah police officers on the school campus. The gun battle ended a meandering midday journey across downtown Issaquah after the rifle-toting Ficker brandished guns at passers-by.

In a decision expected since the Sept. 24 shootout, King County Executive Dow Constantine on Dec. 27 ordered the inquest — a standard procedure in officer-involved shootings. The order directs King County District Court Presiding Judge Barbara Linde to assign a judge to set a date and conduct the inquest.

Linde did not set a date before county offices closed for the New Year’s holiday.

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Milestones from the year 2011 reflect changes

December 27, 2011

Renewal defined the year, as the community paused after a population boom and economic bust — and positioned Issaquah for the decades ahead.

Milestones from the last 12 months offer contrasts.

Leaders opened showcases for “green” design and concluded a milestone effort to preserve Tiger Mountain forestland. Tragedy left indelible impressions, too, as a gunman menaced downtown pedestrians on a September morning and turned a school campus into a crime scene.

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King County executive orders inquest into Issaquah police shooting

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.

Ronald Ficker

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.

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Issaquah gunman: ‘Something big is going to happen’

October 4, 2011

Investigators recovered 952 rounds of ammunition from shooter’s body

King County Chief Deputy Steve Strachan points to a picture of the ditch on the east side of Clark Elementary from where Ronald W. Ficker fired at Issaquah police officers Sept. 24. By Greg Farrar

Just before midnight on a Thursday last month, a man stopped at Issaquah City Hall and asked for assistance from a police officer.

The man, slender and balding, carried a handgun tucked into his waistband — unusual, perhaps, but not illegal. The responding officer approached and asked the man to turn over the weapon.

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Friend describes Issaquah gunman as kind, laidback guy

October 4, 2011

Conversation offered clue to mental turmoil

The reason Ronald W. Ficker engaged in a fatal gun battle against Issaquah police at Clark Elementary School continues to elude detectives, but the gunman’s self-described best friend said the only clue to the incident came less than 48 hours before the Sept. 24 shootout.

Ronald Ficker

Mark Risdon, Ficker’s longtime friend, last spoke to the gunman just after 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 — the night before police said Ficker rented a silver Kia Forte at a Seattle rental car counter.

The vehicle surfaced in Issaquah the next morning after police said the sedan stalled along Interstate 90 and again near a downtown intersection. Police fatally shot Ficker on the Clark Elementary campus at about 11:40 a.m. Sept. 24.

“The content of our conversation gave me a lot of concern,” Risdon said. “He just wasn’t making sense. He was talking, he was saying something about going into outer space.”

Risdon suggested watching a movie the next night, but in the end, decided not to call Ficker after the odd interaction. In the conversation, Ficker did not mention plans to rent a car or travel.

“I was kind of afraid to call him, because the conversation that we had Thursday was, well, alarming,” Risdon said. “I wish I had called him.”

Risdon said he attempted — but failed — to reach Ficker’s physician to discuss the episode. Risdon said Ficker had not said anything similar before the Sept. 22 conversation.

“When I talked to him Thursday, I was asking him questions in kind of a roundabout way — if he had been to his doctor recently, if he was having a bad reaction to any kind of a new medication or something,” he continued. “It just seemed like he was having, maybe, a medication reaction or something.”

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Liberty High School cross country team encounters gunman, assists detectives

October 4, 2011

Liberty High School cross country runners set off for a late-morning practice from Clark Elementary School on a muggy morning late last month and, as the sun inched upward in the sky, slurped Otter Pops and chatted in the parking lot.

Then, as members rested after a run along Tiger Mountain trails, a bang echoed across the campus. Maybe a firecracker, runners said later.

Instead, the noise came from a shot fired on the nearby Issaquah Middle School campus as gunman Ronald W. Ficker headed across downtown on a fatal trip to Clark Elementary.

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Police locate Issaquah gunman’s abandoned car at airport

September 30, 2011

NEW — 6:15 p.m. Sept. 30, 2011

Port of Seattle police located Issaquah gunman Ronald W. Ficker’s abandoned car in a Seattle-Tacoma International Airport parking garage Friday, ending a six-day search for the missing vehicle.

Investigators started searching for Ficker’s silver Hyundai Accent not long after the gunman died in a hail of gunfire from Issaquah police officers Sept. 24. Ficker  rented a similar vehicle — a silver Kia Forte sedan — and drove to Issaquah.

Investigators said Ficker, 51, rented the Kia sedan at 11. a.m. Sept. 23 from a Seattle car rental counter near the airport. Police said he put about 450 miles on the vehicle before he abandoned the sedan at a downtown Issaquah intersection. (The vehicle has California license plates.)

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Issaquah police encountered gunman in days, hours before shooting

September 28, 2011

King County Chief Deputy Steve Strachan points to a picture of the ditch on the east side of Clark Elementary from where Ronald W. Ficker fired at Issaquah police officers Sept. 24. By Greg Farrar

UPDATED — 5:15 p.m. Sept. 28, 2011

Issaquah police officers contacted the Sept. 24 gunman in the days and hours before the lethal shootout at Clark Elementary School, but did not have reason to detain Ronald W. Ficker before the incident.

In the days before the shootout, Ficker told people he had been “communicating with the devil” and said, “Something big is going to happen.”

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‘It was like being in a war zone’ amid shootout

September 27, 2011

Guardian One, the King County Sheriff's Office helicopter (above), takes off from the Issaquah Community Center lawn as law enforcement agencies respond to a gunman in downtown Issaquah. By Christina Lords

Investigation continues after police kill gunman at Issaquah school

Issaquah police stopped a gunman in a fusillade of gunfire Sept. 24, after he led officers on a circuitous chase through downtown Issaquah, prompting residents to scramble for cover inside homes, and athletes and spectators at a youth football game to duck beneath bleachers for protection.

Officers fatally shot the 51-year-old Maple Valley man on the Clark Elementary School campus, not far from a youth football game on nearby Issaquah High School fields.

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