Suspect who shot King County detective identified; detective remains in critical condition
SEATTLE - Several police agencies responded to Seattle's Ballard neighborhood after King County Sheriff's detective David Easterly was shot Monday morning.
Detectives Easterly, Benjamin Wheeler and Benjamin Miller were called to a home near 8th Avenue Northwest and Northwest 54th Street before 9:30 a.m. to serve an eviction notice. After speaking with a 29-year-old person at the home, investigators say there was gunfire.
Investigators have not determined who shot first, but say there is evidence all three detectives returned fire.
Easterly—who has been with the sheriff's office for 25 years—was shot during the exchange, and the suspect then barricaded themselves in the home.
The other two detectives have been with the department for 23 and 26 years.
According to investigators, all three detectives were wearing ballistic vests, but the bullet reportedly missed Easterly's vest and struck him in the upper torso. A spokesperson confirmed he was shot just once.
Easterly was taken to Harborview Medical Center and officials report he is in critical condition.
Authorities eventually got into the residence, where they found the suspect dead.
The suspect has been identified by the King County Medical Examiner's Office as 29-year-old Eucytus Eucytus. They died by suicide, according to the ME's Office.
In a statement, Seattle members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) said:
"Although we do not know the exact circumstances of Eucy’s death, it is indisputable that the inherently violent and traumatic process of deputies forcibly evicting a person from their home was a key factor. We deeply regret that this eviction ended with gunfire, injury, and death, regardless of who initiated it. DSA supports peaceful, mass resistance against evictions.
Unfortunately, this tragic outcome underscores the violent character of our capitalist housing system, which prioritizes the profits of landlords over the human right to housing. According to her friends, Eucy was unemployed following a workplace injury and was unable to pay rent.
Evictions inevitably lead to desperation and homelessness, disruptions to our education system, and the breaking apart of families and communities. Numerous studies indicate that housing instability and evictions lead to dramatically worse outcomes in education, mental and physical health, incarceration rates, and economic well-being. Seattle DSA condemns this systemic violence.
We will remember and honor the life of Eucy and all those who have been killed by this unjust system by redoubling our commitment to building a socialist future where housing is a human right and where poverty, inequality, racism, sexism, and transphobia are relics of the past."
Eucytus was a member of DSA.
FOX 13 has been working on getting details about how evictions are served. It's described as a civil process handled by the King County Civil Process Unit.
Easterly is one of 10 assigned to the unit; he, however, is part of the four primarily assigned to serve court-ordered evictions.
The dangers of carrying out such orders are crystal clear as a big red bold indication is found at the top of their website saying, "Due to unit staffing shortages coupled with the hazardous nature of the orders we're receiving, we need approximately 50 days to serve and enforce the writ."
Landlords first have to file their request. If the resident has not moved out by the time they are ordered to, detectives then come in to help with the eviction and "ensuring the peace." Normally, detectives are on site for about an hour – unless landlords anticipate there to be issues.
In 2022, officials with the unit say they received about 116 eviction cases per month compared to an average of 81 cases per month so far in 2023.
The work they do is difficult as a person can lose everything in sheer moments.
A friend of the 29-year-old person found dead inside their apartment – who did not want to be identified – says they were struggling to pay for rent, owing thousands after exhausting all funds available during the pandemic. The friend said they reached out to her minutes before the exchange of gunfire.
"She said she was getting evicted and stopped communicating after that," the friend said. "Ultimately, they couldn’t care for themselves they couldn’t get the help that they needed."
The investigation into how the shooting evolved is ongoing.
All three detectives are being placed on administrative leave, as per sheriff's office protocol.
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