Capitol Hill man killed in officer-involved shooting said to be mentally ill

SEATTLE - Seattle police said the man who was killed after an eight-hour standoff with police was mentally ill.

Police had contact with the 28-year-old man as many as seven different times before Friday’s standoff. His identity has not been released.

For hours officers urged the suspect to come out of his 5th floor condo unit, but instead he flashed a handgun outside his balcony and repeatedly said he was prepared to defend himself against “zombies.”

“Nobody said what he was shooting at -- I guess just random shots fired,” neighbor Julie Poliak said.

The standoff started  around 3 a.m. after neighbors called 911 saying they saw the man walking around the building with a gun and heard up to five shots inside Marq Condos in the 100 block of Bellevue Ave East.

“I looked outside the peephole and there were over 20 swat and SPD crews and they told us to get dressed and get out,” neighbor Richard Oh said.

As police tried to talk to the man through the door, he used furniture to barricade himself in. They also heard something else that was disturbing.

“They heard video or TV describing how to disassemble, probably clean a handgun,” Seattle Interim Chief of Police Jim Pugel said.

Negotiations went nowhere and then about 10:30 a.m. police say they were forced to fire back.

“He pointed the gun in their general direction and then fired a shot. Every one clearly heard the shot, one officer fired back,” Pugel said.

The man appeared again with the gun in hand and a second officer fired once. After the man fell to the ground SPD sent in a robot in case the unit was booby trapped.

After the scene was secure officers confirmed the man was dead.

“He has YouTube postings and Facebook postings that show a very ill person who needs help,” Pugel said.

In April a local business reported the man to police after he allegedly tried to mail a suspicious package. The crisis intervention team with SPD that works with the mentally ill also came in contact with the man. Several members took the man to Harborview Medical Center for a mental evaluation.

Pugel said every police department across the nation struggles with the mentally ill everyday. “We are not demonizing people who are ill,” he said.

Last year Seattle police shot a 21-year-old man who came after an officer with a metal rod. The man’s family indicated he was mentally unstable.

“It’s always unfortunate police officers are at the very end of the line and, unfortunately, are forced to do something that ends like this,” Pugel said.

Pugel went on to say that officers on the streets have a very good record of dealing with people under mental stress. He said they deal with hundreds of cases everyday and most are resolved peacefully.

There is no word on what Harborview’s evaluation of the man turned out to be and no charges were filed in the suspicious package incident.

The two officers involved in the shooting were put on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.