EVERETT, Wash. — A suspect accused of shooting and driving his car over an Everett police officer is being held on $5 million bail.
Richard James Rotter, 50, was charged with first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree in Snohomish County District Court on March 29.
The deadline for prosecutors to file charges in Superior Court is April 15.
The incident began Friday afternoon when Officer Dan Rocha, 41, spoke with Rotter after seeing him “'moving guns from one car to another” in the parking lot of a Starbucks in Everett, according to probable cause documents.
Police said the dispatcher told Rocha that Rotter had outstanding warrants for his arrest, including domestic violence assault and hit-and-run, and recorded radio chatter indicated the suspect had a previous felony conviction.
Witness cellphone video shows Rocha try to detain Rotter near the back of his Mini Cooper. Rotter began to “wrestle” with Rocha, and they fell behind the car. Rotter took out a handgun and fired “at least twice” at Rocha’s head, according to documents.
Police said another cellphone witness video shows the Mini Cooper accelerating backward over Rocha’s body and leaving the parking lot.
Everett police found Rotter and began chasing him after seeing Rotter was “blowing lights.” The pursuit ended in a crash, and Rotter was taken into custody.
Investigators noted that when Rotter was placed under arrest he simply "rolled his eyes" and nodded.
Rotter has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions or adverse findings for 18 felonies, 12 gross misdemeanors and 11 misdemeanors, according to Washington State Patrol records.
Rocha had been with the Everett Police Department since 2017. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
The shooting of Rocha is a crime many people visiting a memorial outside Everett police headquarters are struggling to comprehend.
"To shoot a police officer is just really hard to take," said a tearful Denecia Evans, who works near the headquarters. "It's just heartbreaking for his family. I'm really broken up for his family."
Everett Police Officer Kerby Duncan worked with Rocha for about two years and said the fallen officer was "a good guy."
"In the years I worked with him, I never saw him in a bad mood," Duncan said. "He was as happy as you could be showing up to work at five in the morning ... He always impressed me. His attitude was always so great."
As he watched the tributes for his fallen friend pile up outside the police station, Duncan couldn't help but think about Rocha's wife and two boys who are left behind.
"We can't ever replace officer Rocha," Duncan said. "The void he leaves for the family, I can't put into words how I feel for them."
Snohomish County prosecutor Adam Cornell issued a statement saying, "We are ardently committed to providing the full measure of justice that is possible through the criminal legal system to Officer Rocha's family and loved ones. The prosecution team will dedicate an unwavering commitment of time, talent, and resources from now until the conclusion of the case."
A memorial fund has now been established for the officer's family.
Detectives with the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team are investigating. They are seeking witnesses and footage that may provide additional information. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office tip line at 425-388-3845.