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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