Tacoma cop killer shot dead, used kids as human shields

Members of area law enforcement agencies, fire departments and the community lined the streets to pay their respects as the procession escorting the officer's body passed by, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (KOMO)

TACOMA, Wash. (KOMO) - A veteran police officer who was shot several times while responding to a domestic disturbance in Tacoma Wednesday afternoon has died.

The suspected gunman, a 38-year-old man, was shot and killed by authorities at about 3:30 a.m. Thursday after barricading himself inside a home with a rifle.

At a news conference, Pierce County Deputy Ed Troyer said the suspect used two children as human shields. The kids, ages 8 and 11, were were taken from the scene unharmed.

A Pierce County SWAT deputy shot the suspect while one of the children was still with him, Troyer said. The suspect has not been identified and had multiple weapons in the house.

Police officers were stationed at the house overnight after dragging the injured officer to safety.

The officer, 45, was pronounced dead at the hospital late Wednesday night, Loretta Cool, spokeswoman for the Tacoma Police Department, said.

The fallen officer still has not been publicly identified, though authorities say he had worked for Tacoma Police Department for 17 years.

The officer and his partner were called to the house, in the 400 block of East 52nd Street on Tacoma's east side, at about 4 p.m.

Police said the man and his wife had some sort of argument. The man then locked the woman out of the house.

When police arrived, they offered to help the woman—that's when when the suspect barricaded himself in the home and fired multiple shots. It's not clear if officers returned fire.

The injured officer was rushed to Tacoma General Hospital, where he later died.

Officers from Tacoma, Fife, the State Patrol, and King and Pierce County Sheriff's Offices surrounded the neighborhood and the home, while a law enforcement helicopter shined a spotlight overhead.

Flashbangs and gunfire were heard as police attempted to force their way inside the home.

Kristi Croskey, who rents the home to the suspect and his wife, was inside the home at the time and barricaded herself in the bathroom before she was able to escape.

She said police showed up because the suspect was fighting with his wife and refused to let her back inside.

"They said they just wanted to talk to him and then gunfire started, they didn't start it," Croskey said.

Dozens of law enforcement officers, some in uniform and others in plain-clothes, lined up outside of Tacoma General Hospital to pay their respects to the fallen officer.

The officer's body was draped with an American flag and loaded into an ambulance. A procession of police vehicles then escorted the ambulance to the Pierce County Medical Examiner's office.

In a statement, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he and his wife Trudi were sending their thoughts and prayers to the family and loved ones of the officer.

"All of Washington grieves with Tacoma, which tonight lost one of their finest. Our hearts are with the men and women of the Tacoma Police Department, their families, and their brothers and sisters in law enforcement across Washington."

The shooting comes a day after the seven-year anniversary of a Lakewood shooting at a Forza Coffee shop that left four officers dead.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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