Duvall police officer recovering
Duvall Police Sgt. Lori Batiot, the city’s community police resource supervisor, was in Maryland attending a course at the FEMA Emergency Management Institute when she got the urgent middle-of-the-night message: “One of our officers has been shot.”
“When I got the message,” she said, “well, the first questions are ‘who and how bad?’ I jumped on the first plane to come home.”
But for most Duvall residents – with the exception of those who heard the gunshots the night of Sept. 15 – it wasn’t until the next morning that they learned one of their city’s police officers had been shot in a bizarre incident that started in the parking lot of Holy Innocents Catholic Church, continued with a high-speed chase on SR 203 – reportedly reaching speeds of nearly 90 m.p.h. – and ended with the alleged shooter being captured near the town of Preston.
Many residents read about it first on the Duvall Police Department’s Facebook page or on postings from residents wondering about the gunshots. But since Sgt. Batiot was in charge of the department’s Facebook page and not back yet, Shaun Tozer, the city’s public information officer, was pressed into service so that those checking the department’s page could find links to news outlets that described how the incident unfolded. When Sgt. Batiot returned, postings offered updates on the condition of Sgt. Michael DeBock, the injured officer, and well-wishes from concerned citizens.
The alleged shooter, Joshua Stephen Kramer, 47, of Woodinville, was charged last Thursday with two counts of assault in the first degree. He has no known criminal convictions, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
The incident began in Duvall about 10:45 p.m. when officers responded to 911 calls about someone firing a paintball gun at people in neighborhoods and the downtown area. Seth Tyler, public information officer for the King County Investigative Response Team, the investigating unit, said one call came from the Duvall Tavern.
Court documents say that Sgt. DeBock and Officer Joe Eaton were dispatched. They were looking for what had been described in the 911 calls as a dark blue older Suburban with a lone occupant. At 10:50 Officer Eaton found a black 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe with a white male standing outside of it in the south parking lot of the church located on Cherry Valley Road.
The man was later identified as Joshua Stephen Kramer, court papers say, who then got in the Tahoe. Despite the fact that Eaton activated his emergency lights, Kramer backed out and proceeded west through the parking lot, turning south in an attempt to exit, but found his way blocked by fixed pillars. Eaton was following behind Kramer with his emergency lights still on. Kramer put his vehicle in reverse, backed up and collided with the front push bars of Eaton’s patrol vehicle.
Kramer then drove north towards the back of the church, where the north parking lot is located, say charging documents. Eaton continued to follow Kramer with his lights and siren on in an attempt to stop him. Sgt. DeBock had arrived and drove towards the north lot, then stopped his patrol car and positioned it so it partially blocked the driveway that leads from the north lot to the south lot. Exiting his vehicle, DeBock saw the Tahoe driving towards him and drew his firearm. Kramer drove around the sergeant’s vehicle and came to a stop approximately five to seven feet from DeBock.
Documents allege that Kramer then pointed a handgun at DeBock and fired one bullet, which struck DeBock’s left thigh. The bullet entered the front of the left thigh and exited the front of the left thigh. DeBock realized he had been shot with a bullet and not a paint ball. Sgt. DeBock fired his handgun in Kramer’s direction as Kramer was driving away.
Court documents say Kramer then fled southbound towards the exit. Both police officers pursued. Eaton lost sight of the vehicle but came upon it again as Kramer had slowed and appeared to be waiting for the police cars. Kramer then drove southbound on SR 203 at high speed followed by both police cars.
At that time, surrounding agencies were informed, including the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), which became involved in the pursuit, charging documents said. Dispatch told DeBock to return to the church to meet the Duvall Fire Department for treatment for his injuries. He was transported to Evergreen Hospital and released several hours later.
Minutes after other agencies’ patrol cars began to arrive, King County Sheriff’s Officer Denny Gulla became involved in the pursuit in the area of the Tolt River Bridge on SR 203. Sgt. Gulla drove his patrol car in front of Kramer’s vehicle, charging papers stated. Gulla said they were going 70 m.p.h. and he was about 2-3 car lengths in front when a “projectile” came through his rear window, shattering it, and hit his interior rearview mirror, breaking it and missing his head by less than a foot.
A spike strip was deployed which stopped the vehicle near 5527 Preston-Fall City Road SE. Kramer exited the Tahoe armed with a .45-caliber handgun and a knife. He ignored all commands given to him by police. He was shot several times with less than lethal rounds which did not seem to have any effect, documents said.
The KCSO SWAT team responded. There was a 2-3 hour standoff, during which Kramer pulled the knife out of its sheath and fired several rounds, but none at any of the officers, court documents said. Kramer was eventually taken into custody.
Bail has not yet been set because Kramer declined to come to court for his first appearance on Sept. 17. He is being held in the King County Jail. Arraignment is set for Oct. 2 at the King County Courthouse, said King County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Dan Donohoe.
Meanwhile, Sgt. DeBock is at home and expected to make a full recovery. He has received an overwhelming amount of support from the community in the form of cards and Facebook postings. DeBock is an 11-year veteran of the Duvall Police Department whose duties include firearms instruction, field training and background investigation.
Sgt. Batiot said his injuries could have been so much worse. “His cell phone, which he had in his pocket, actually deflected the bullet,” she said.
Describing the incident, she made a particularly nerve-wracking point that, during the initial chase, the alleged shooter had slowed down at the bottom of Cherry Valley Road, “and was lying in wait like a predator.”
Even Duvall’s fire chief, David Burke, responded to the call. He was in the aid unit that treated DeBock, and went with him to the hospital, where he sat with the sergeant until he was sure he would be okay. “Thigh injuries can be very serious because the femoral artery is there,” he said. “I think I got home at about 4:30 in the morning.”
Cards and letters to Sgt. DeBock can be sent to the Duvall Police Department at PO Box 1500, Duvall, WA 98019. The sergeant has also issued a public statement, which reads: “I just want the community to know that I appreciate all their thoughts and prayers. I am proud to be associated with such a caring community. It means a lot.”