“It’s like a gravesite,” said Rebecca Humphrey, who is the fiancé of fallen Tacoma officer Reginald Jake Gutierrez, shot and killed four days before their wedding day.
When she heard the news Tacoma police had its first officer-involved shooting since Gutierrez was shot on November 30, she drove to the scene from Port Orchard.
“It just makes me worried it was one of those officers involved in the shooting because Jake was very close to them, and he cared a lot about his squad,” Humphrey said, explaining she wanted to make sure the officers were okay.
They are okay -- at least physically -- according to Tacoma Police. Officer Loretta Cool says no officers were injured, but the suspect was shot and killed.
Police have not yet released names of the three officers involved or the name of the suspect who was killed. Cool told reporters the officers were placed on administrative leave, as per protocol, and she believed the suspect was potentially a 40-something man of Hispanic descent.
Tacoma Police released the following descriptions of the three officers: male officer, 35, employed with City of Tacoma for three years; male, 38, employed for 14 years; and another male, 47, employed for 22 years.
Police say people who live on South Lawrence Street, near 56th Street, called to report a man behaving erratically, yelling and holding a gun. When officers arrived, the suspect did not drop the gun and instead opened fire on officers.
“They gave him initial commands which he did not follow, and then there was an exchange of gunfire,” Officer Cool said.
At press time, police could not confirm how many rounds were fired or how much time passed in between officers making contact and opening fire.
Neighbors told King 5 News they believe they heard about two dozen rounds. Many who were on their front porches and took cover inside immediately. Police say a couple of houses were hit by rounds, but no one was injured.
Humphrey looked at the scene emotionally as investigators combed the streets for shell casings, as she said she could not help but think of the families and what her late fiancé’s fellow officers may be going through.
“Just because they’re okay doesn’t mean they’re not at home shaking,” Humphrey said. “There are some officers who were involved with other shootings, their hands are shaking just going back to work. Just being able to hold a gun again -- it’s a fear you don’t get over.”
The Pierce County Medical Examiner is expected to release the name of the man killed after family members are notified.
The investigation is ongoing.