Neighbors recall night of terror, 'awesome' police officer who was shot

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – A day after the shooting of a Mount Vernon police officer during a standoff, neighbors relived the experience, saying it was “scary” but  expressed a belief that it will ultimately bring the community closer together.

“I am thinking of this white-haired gentleman that I have known forever,” said Josh Tryon, recalling the officer that he knew growing up. “That’s him,” he exclaimed upon seeing a photo, “that is who I thought it was.”

Officer Mike “Mick” McClaughry was shot in the back of the head Thursday night after responding to a weapons offense in the neighborhood of LaVenture Road and Fir Street.

But long before the shooting, McClaughry not only helped Tryon while he was a child, he had helped Tryon's children, too.

“He’d come by and give the kids these tickets for getting caught (on their bikes) with their helmets on,” he said. “It’s like (tickets for) a free ice cream cone and simple little stuff like that.”

On Thursday night, the neighborhood where Tryon said officers hand out tickets of merit, gunshots rang out. He said after hearing multiple rounds, he told his children to duck and cover in their bedroom.

“I kind of barricaded them up in the room, because the intel was really low at first,” he said. “We didn’t know what was happening. We didn’t know if he (the gunman) was stuck in the house or if he was at large or anything.”

“Hearing it all night, hearing the helicopters, hearing the helicopters returning on and off,” described Jessica Pope, “it’s like, is this ever going to end?”

Pope lives next door to Tryon. She moved to the neighborhood eight months ago from Indiana with her young family.

She said the community is strong. “We’re all in this together,” she said.

Pope, like Tryon, relied on social media for updates about what was happening just down the road from their homes. “The whole community is so tight-knit, everyone is reporting what they are hearing, what they are seeing,” she said. “It’s really comforting.”

To know is all a mom really wants in a situation like Thursday night, Pope said. “To be able to wake and tell my son in the morning, ‘The bad guys were caught, that the police officers got them,’ that’s awesome to say.”

Awesome to say, but what she heard next not only surprised her but touched her heart deeply, she said.

“He really said this morning, ‘They’re heroes,’” she said, talking about her 4-year-old son. “He’s like, I want to be a police officer, too, and daddy can be a firefighter.”

A day after the standoff, both parents were left telling their children the second half of the story, that McClaughry, the Mount Vernon policeman known for handing out tickets of merit, was struggling for life in the hospital.

“I hope that he’s OK and that he survives,” said Paytyn, Tryon’s 9-year-old daughter. “He’s awesome and I think that he’s the best officer.”

“If it wasn’t for him and for first-responders like him, then who knows what would’ve happened to this community,” said Pope. “Maybe he (the gunman) would’ve left his house, maybe he would’ve gone on a rampage throughout this neighborhood. It could’ve been so much worse.”