Deputy Ryan Thompson, 42, was shot and killed and a police officer was injured after they exchanged was a road rage driving defendant Tuesday. (Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
A small community in central Washington state on Wednesday mourned the sheriff’s deputy, who was killed in a shootout with a road-rage drive suspected, remember the veteran officer as a family man and “one of our finest.”
Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson, 42, was shot and killed Tuesday night after he and Kittitas police officer Benito Chavez, 22, responded to a driving complaint and tried to stop a vehicle. After a short pursuit, the suspect out of the car and exchanged gunfire with the officers, killing Thompson and wounding of Chavez. The suspect was also shot and later died.
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“Our community is a very heavy heart today. Last night, we lost one of our finest,” Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana said at a news conference Wednesday in the morning. It was the first fatal shooting of a law enforcement officer in the rural county in 92 years, he said.
“Our community is a very heavy heart today. Last night, we lost one of our finest.”
— Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana
The close-knit community of 1500 was stunned that such violence could descend on the city, which the website to brands as a place “without the crime, noise, traffic congestion and the pollution of the larger cities”, the Seattle Times reported.
“This happen here? It’s crazy. That is not here,” Ethan Keaton, a 17-year-old high school student, told the newspaper.
The body of the Kittitas County sheriff’s deputy Ryan Thompson is draped with an AMERICAN flag as it is carried out of Kittitas Valley Healthcare Hospital in the early morning of Wednesday, March 20, in Ellensburg, Wash. (Associated Press)
Mourners gathered at a memorial at Kittitas elementary School, about a block from the shooting scene, to honor Thompson, who was born in nearby Walla Walla, and studied at the Central Washington University, the Times reported. Heart-shaped balloons were strung along the fence with the homemade signs that read: “Kittitas Strong.”
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“Perhaps you have pulled over for a DUI or speeding. You do not need people shot here,” Josh Dunn, a 20-year-old, who grew up in the city, told the newspaper. “I didn’t even have a word for it.”
Thompson, a 15-year law enforcement veteran, is survived by his wife and three children, FOX13 Seattle reported.
Kittitas police officer Benito Chavez, 22, was shot and wounded in the leg during a shootout with a road-rage driving suspect Tuesday night. He was listed in good condition Wednesday in the morning.
Chavez was shot in a leg and suffered a fractured femur, Ellensburg Police Chief Ken Wade said. He was airlifted to a hospital following the shooting and was listed in good condition Wednesday in the morning. He and his wife are expecting their first child, FOX13 reported.
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The suspect, who was not identified, was shot and later died in a hospital. Authorities did not immediately provide information about how many times the suspect was shot or how many shots were fired in the general.
Wade said that the authorities have no other information, next to the road-rage incident for what might have prompted the suspect to flee, and exchange gunfire with the officers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.