Issaquah gunman may have battled mental health problems

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by RUSS WALKER / KING 5 News, NATASHA RYAN / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 27, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 27 at 10:55 PM

SEATTLE -- A Maple Valley resident was identified Tuesday as the heavily armed man who was killed Saturday in a shootout with police after he fired multiple gunshots in downtown Issaquah.
 
The King County Medical Examiner identified the man as Ronald W. Ficker, 51.
 
Ficker died at the scene after engaging in a gun battle with law enforcement officers who swarmed the area between Issaquah High School and Clark Elementary School. He was shot while trying to get away by scaling a fence. His cause of death was listed as "homicide."

Neighbors said Ficker lived in his home on 230th Avenue Southeast in Maple Valley for about 10 years, but that he kept to himself. David Peters lives next door to Ficker, and said he was always nice to his children.

"There was nothing that stood out as particularly strange," said Peters.

However, Ficker may have been battling mental healt issues. A week before the shooting incident, Ficker posted a link on his Facebook page to a support group for people who hear voices.

Mark Risdon, Ficker's best friend, said he saw warning signs and tried to help.

"I'm sure he wasn't shooting to injure anyone. It was some sort of cry for help," said Risdon. "That's why when we talked Thursday night, I knew something was wrong. That's why I tried contacting his doctor that night."

Risdon said Ficker was talking about going to space and seemed delusional. He said he knew Ronald was depressed, but had no idea it would come to this.

No other persons were wounded in Saturday's bizarre incident, in which witnesses said Ficker brandished two rifles after abandoning his car in the middle of Front Street. Police now say Ficker's car ran out of gas at that location, and that he may have been looking for a getaway vehicle.
 
Witnesses described a chaotic scene, with the sound of gunfire causing people to run for safety.  The shooting brought a halt to a football game going on at the high school stadium, forcing students and parents to seek shelter. Several people described hearing or feeling bullets fly past them.
 
Officers later surrounded Ficker on a service road where they shot and killed him. The officers involved remain on paid administrative leave as the King County Sheriff's Office investigates.

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