Northwest NEWS

November 18, 2002

Local News

9-1-1 call ends tragically for local family

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   It was dark, rainy last Tuesday, Nov. 12, when officers responded to a 5:50 a.m. 9-1-1 call from a woman living in a north Woodinville home.
   According to a King County Sheriff's Office press release, she said she was concerned about some unusual behavior by her husband and requested that deputies come to the home to talk with him.
   When deputies arrived, they learned the husband, Kevin Fitzpatrick, 42, had barricaded himself in the downstairs portion of their split-level home.
   He was armed with a 12-guage shotgun.
   Deputies escorted Mrs. Fitzpatrick and the two children, ages 3 and 13, from the home.
   Officers then opened dialogue with the husband. He spoke from behind a closed basement door. Three officers stood some 12 to 15 feet away from him, guns drawn, in the entranceway of the house.
   Conversation continued for some three to five minutes, officers hopeful the man would surrender.
   Then, inexplicably, Fitzpatrick stopped talking and fired his gun through the door.
   "They don't know what set him off," said King County Sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Fagerstrom, spokesman for the department.
   Next, Fitzpatrick placed his gun barrel through the hole, which was cut by the first shot. He fired a second time.
   When officers heard Fitzpatrick reloading the chamber of his gun to fire again, they - each of the three - fired through the closed door, killing him.
   A Woodinville Fire & Life Safety medic unit was dispatched to the scene. According to Fire Chief Steve Smith, "Firefighters checked (Fitzpatrick), put a life pack on him, but he had passed away. There was nothing to be done."
   Woodinville Police Chief Ken Wardstrom said, "After the shooting, 25 cars responded, the department chaplain, crime scene investigators, even King County Sheriff Dave Reichert was out."
   "We wish we'd had another option," said Fagerstrom. "Their plan was to get the family out, open dialogue and try to get the man to stand down. The officers were only doing their jobs. Unfortunately, they were compelled into a course of action (that had tragic results)."
   Each of the three officers involved in the shooting, two from the City of Woodinville Police Department and one from the King County Sheriff's Office, was placed on administrative leave, pending investigation. Other King County officers will fill in for the Woodinville officers on leave.
   But this is only one-half of the story. Kevin Fitzpatrick was a loving family man.
   According to friends, something must have snapped to turn him into the man he was early that Tuesday morning. Perhaps he was under duress because he lost his job at the Boeing Company. Perhaps a prescription medication he was using affected him. Perhaps we will never know.
   Neighbor Julie Yasney said Fitzpatrick was "a good guy, always very nice. He liked to fish. He brought us salmon once. He worked in his yard. He liked to chop firewood, play with his kids.
   "It's a tragedy. I only wish we had known, so we could have done something (to help).
   "I never heard a raised voice from their house, never a slammed door. I heard laughter, playing with a toddler.
   "Some have mentioned drugs, but never, never was there anything to indicate that the man I saw and knew as my neighbor was on any type of drug. I never saw a beer bottle over there. There was no partying. Family barbeques was more like it.
   "I want people to know he was a really great guy," said Julie.
   Julie's husband Wes described Fitzpatrick as a soft-spoken man, a great family man, involved in his church.
   Wes said Fitzpatrick's pastor lined him up with people who had fallen trees so that he could chop them up and bring home some of the firewood to supplement their heating.
   "He's the kind of guy you'd like as a neighbor," said Wes. "We borrowed tools from one another, helped each other move stuff.
   "One time, two or three years ago, we'd had some mail thefts in the neighborhood. Kevin took the initiative and talked to neighbors to solicit help in hopes of getting more secure mailboxes. He wanted to do something to assist, to help the neighborhood.
   "He was a gem, and I'm still dizzily shaking my head. (The man who fired at officers that morning) was not the Kevin Fitzpatrick I knew. Something terrible must have happened to his mindset," said Wes Yasney.
   Wes said a police officer asked if he had personal knowledge of narcotic or drug use by Fitzpatrick.
   "My response was, 'Hell no! That's not him,'" said Wes.
   "Hopefully," he said, "we'll be closer to the family. Hopefully, they'll come to us when they need something. And that goes for the rest of the neighborhood. They're sharing in the tragedy, as well."
   According to Sgt. Fagerstrom, autopsy results, already completed, will not be released until toxicology reports are complete. That could take anywhere from two to five weeks.