Kids run for cover as gunman fires shots near Issaquah High

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 24, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Updated Saturday, Sep 24 at 6:25 PM

Issaquah shooting

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ISSAQUAH, Wash. – A witness says kids ran for cover under bleachers as a guman fired shots near Issaquah High School.

Police shot and killed the lone gunman. No one else was hurt.

The man, said to be in his 50s and from Maple Valley, was driving his car on Front Street when he stopped in the middle of the street, got out and started shooting, King County Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Urquhart said.

“A bullet went between me and my friend Tony. We started running and we could hear bullets bouncing off the concrete behind us,” said Shanae Hover.

The man proceeded to walk toward the elementary school and high school, where a youth football game was going on.

“Where we were alongside the elementary school we got shot at about nine times,” said Jason Gerth.

Police emptied the field and evacuated the stands filled with young football players and their families.

“They're huddled under the bleachers staying close together, scared out of their minds,” said Chase Hawkins.

“In my whole life I've never seen anything like this,” said Jack Hover.

The children that live in the house right next to Clark Elementary found themselves in the middle of gunfire.

“I was so scared, I was shocked and couldn't move, I heard the gunshot, I don’t know it was like a like and death situation so I ran inside as fast as I could,” said one boy.

Richard Denbey lives just a few doors down. When he heard a barrage of shots he went outside and saw a herd of teenagers, running toward him.

“Came sprinting down the street, terrified looks on their faces,” he said. “We hustled them into garage  and they were nearly sick to their stomachs with fear.”

David Korpi also saw that group of teens. He was at a church yard work party. He picked up a rock as a weapon and ran toward the chaos and ended up seeing a gunfight between the shooter and police.

"Saw one person off the side of a building and there was a number of shots around that person to probably make sure they were down,” he said.

Susan Waters said she got a frantic phone call from her 11-year-old daughter, who was cheering at a middle school game at Issaquah High.

“Saying there were shots fired and there were police everywhere and I’m really scared,” said Waters. “They locked everybody down, they were all safe immediately.

"Still terrifying," she said.

A couple who came to watch their nephew play football said they got caught in the gunman's crosshairs as they were leaving the school.

Leslie Olerich and her husband les say the man was coming up a walkway, 20 feet from their car, carrying two rifles and wearing dark camouflage.

"I would say we were very, very lucky,” said Olerich. “We could've been in the absolute wrong place at the wrong time ... if he was in that mood, we'd be dead."

The Olersichs quickly drove away and as they did so, the man flashed them a smile they describe as "Steven-King-esque."

Leif Steffny, who was at the gun range at the nearby Issaquah Sportsman’s Club, heard up to 60 shots.

Someone at the club called police and the club was told to cease firing to avoid confusion.

Steffny was able to capture the sound of multiple gunshots on video.

Police managed to surround the suspect on a service road. He was still firing his weapon when he was shot by police. He died at the scene.

At one point a sheriff's department sniper took to the air to be sure there were no other shooters.

“Our priority was to get him to stop moving, number one and to stop shooting, number two. We were able to do both of those," said Urquhart.

Several roads were closed for the investigation:

  • Second Avenue Southeast from Front Street South to East Sunset Way.
  • Front Street South from Second Avenue Southeast to Newport Way Northwest.

KING 5's Natasha Ryan and Eric Wilkinson contributed to this report.

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