Man believed to have died in fire after attacking deputy with Molotov cocktail
AUBURN, Wash. -- A man who threw a Molotov cocktail at a King County deputy Tuesday afternoon, is believed to have died after setting fire to a large shed on a sprawling property, according to the King County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities say the Molotov cocktail started the fire, and that the man was either unwilling or unable to get out.
Deputies were initially called to a home in the 33100 block of E. Lake Holm Dr. SE in Auburn around 10 a.m. after reports that the man who lived there was screaming loudly.
Deputies returned around 1:00 p.m. when neighbors reported the man was throwing rocks at their homes and cars. King County Sheriff John Urquhart said he may have broken some windows and a car windshield.
The Sheriff's office said they had responded to the home several times before regarding threats and disturbances.
Four deputies arrived at the home to try and contact the man, who was standing outside on his deck. When the deputies told him he was under arrest for vandalism and needed to come down, he lit a Molotov cocktail and threw it at the deputies, striking one in the face.
“Turned out to be a Molotov cocktail at one of my deputies,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart said. “Exploded in front of him burned the face—not too bad, then he retreated into a nearby shed.”
The man then ran into a large shed and barricaded himself inside. A fire then started at shed, and the man refused to come out.
Black Diamond firefighters and medics were called to the scene but had to stay back due to the unresolved situation with the assault suspect.
A SWAT team and the Guardian One helicopter were called in Tuesday night to search for the man in a nearby wooded area, but did not find him.
The fire was extinguished just after 7 p.m. Fire investigators entered the shed and discovered a body inside.
The King County Medical Examiner's office will identify the remains and cause of death, but investigators believe it is the same man.
The deputy who was the target of the Molotov cocktail was taken to Valley Medical Center and treated for minor burns to his face and neck.
Urquhart said the man, 42, lived on the property with his mother and perhaps another person. He had been the source of police calls in recent days.
Neighbors told KOMO News that the man had been a problem for years, threatening people and even scaring them. But Tuesday, he started acting erratically and throwing rocks so they called 911.
“This is the worst outcome anybody could look for,” neighbor David Crawford said. “He had never thrown rocks before he’d just cursed and yelled mostly, but he had thrown a rock and it hit our house, and he was throwing rocks and hit the car.”
Neighbors said the man lived with his mom and struggled with mental issues.
The sheriff said they tried to work with mental health professionals to help him with no luck.