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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: suicide

Wallace’s alleged accomplice tries suicide

A man accused of helping Charles Wallace, who shot two sheriff’s deputies before shooting himself to death last month, tried to kill himself at the Spokane County Jail on Friday.

Robert Lee “Bo” Ruth, 42, who was jailed last week after his girlfriend told police he’d assaulted her, remains on life support at a local hospital.

Ruth was found hanging unconscious in his jail cell Friday about 8:35 a.m. A corrections deputy cut him down and performed CPR until medics arrived, said Capt. John McGrath.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

July 5: Recording lends insight into Wallace's release

June 22: Man accused of helping cop shooter to stay in jail

June 21: Man arrested for allegedly helping cop shooter

‘48 Hours’ to feature Reynolds case

Ronald Reynolds, left, returns to his seat as his wife, Linda Reynolds, looks on and his son Jonathan Reynolds, right, steps up to speak during a news conference at an attorney's office Nov. 10, 2011, in Olympia. Jonathan and Ronald Reynolds say they did not kill Ronda Reynolds in 1998, disputing the conclusion of an inquest jury. They said the accusations against them have been wrecking their lives. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The TV show “48 Hours Mystery” on Saturday will feature the 1998 death of Cheney native Ronda Reynolds, who was found dead of a gunshot wound in her Toledo home.

The former state trooper's death was ruled a suicide, but her mother, Barb Thompson, (left) who lives near Spokane, never believed it. Last year, an inquest jury ruled it was a homcide, and her death certificate was changed.

That was after famed crime author Ann Rule released her book “In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother’s Unceasing Quest for the Truth.”

Reynolds graduated from Cheney High School and Eastern Washington University before spending several years as a state trooper. She was considering transferring to a security position with a Spokane department store when she died.

For Reynolds, “Spokane was home,” Rule told The Spokesman-Review in October 2010.

“If she’d just gotten away that night, she was planning to fly to Spokane early in the morning, she would still be alive,” Rule said.

Jurors in October named Reynolds' husband, Ronald Reynolds, and her stepson, Jonathan Reynolds, as suspects, but authorties say there is not enough evidence to charge them. They deny involvement and are interviwed by CBS correspondent Peter Van Sant in the “48 Hours” episode, which airs Saturday at 10 p.m. on CBS.

Police subdue armed man w/ bean bags

Spokane police saved the life of a suicidal man on Sunday who was armed with a knife.

The 32-year-old man's family had left the location near 1500 E. Pacific Ave. because they were concerned for their safety, police said.

Officers arrived about 7:50 p.m. and the man exited the home with a knife to his throat and told police he wanted to die. He refused their commands and advanced on officers with the knife before they shot him with several bean bag rounds and he dropped the weapon, police say.

The man was taken to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation. He commended officers at the hospital, saying “You were trying to save my life without taking my life,” according to a news release.

“This is an example of a potentially lethal encounter which police face,” according to a news release. “Officers were able to use several of their “less-lethal” tools in this situation to take control of the scene without anyone being seriously injured.”

The National Suicide Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). More information on suicide prevention is available through the Spokane Regional Health District.

Police save Spokane Valley man’s life

Three Spokane Valley police officer saved the life of a suicidal man Wednesday.

Officers Griffin Criswell, Wally Loucks and Richard Johnson found the man attempting to hang himself at his Spokane Valley home after the man called 911 and said he wanted to kill himself.

The officers got the victim down and began CPR. They located a pulse and the man was transported to a hospital, where his family said today that he's alert and conscious “with a positive demeanor,” according to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

They extended their deepest gratitude and thanks to officers Criswell, Loucks and Johnson for their quick response and heroism during this traumatic event,” according to a news release.

The National Suicide Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). More information on suicide prevention is available through the Spokane Regional Health District.

Officer kills self after being arrested

SEATTLE (AP) — A longtime police officer arrested in a cocaine sting shot himself to death in the Cascade Mountain foothills hours after he was released from jail, the department said Thursday.

Richard F. Nelson, a patrolman in South Seattle for the past 21 years, became the focus of an internal investigation last summer after his colleagues and a member of the public complained about his handling of evidence in drug cases, Chief John Diaz told a news conference.

The investigation culminated Wednesday in a rare sting operation known as an “integrity test.” An undercover officer from another jurisdiction, posing as someone who had just found a purse that contained cocaine, turned it in to Nelson as other investigators monitored him.

The investigators followed him as he neglected to turn the cocaine in, instead taking it with him in his personal car as he drove just past the city limits.

“This is a tremendous tragedy for this department,” said Deputy Chief Nick Metz, who added that he knew Nelson and liked him. “We have a lot of officers grieving. Despite the actions this officer took, he was a friend to many. … His family is grieving very much.”

Nelson, a 50-year-old father of two teenagers, was observed by the department's command staff after his arrest. He was given an opportunity to speak, as well as to call his family or a lawyer. He declined, Diaz said.

He was released without bail from the King County Jail shortly before 5 a.m. Thursday. Members of the command staff drove him home.

About five hours later, he was found on John Wayne Trail, a popular hiking and biking route near North Bend, east of Seattle. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he died.

The incident was the latest setback for the department, which is in the midst of implementing reforms outlined in a Department of Justice report last month that was highly critical of the use of force by Seattle police.

Inadequate supervision and training had led officers to grab weapons such as batons and flashlights too quickly and to escalate confrontations even when arresting people for minor offenses, federal officials said.

The Department of Justice launched an investigation last spring following the fatal shooting of a homeless Native American woodcarver and other reported uses of force against minority suspects. The probe was aimed at determining whether Seattle police have a pattern or practice of violating civil rights or discriminatory policing.

New details on chase that led to suicide

A North Idaho man who killed himself during a police chase was allegedly trying to persuade his wife to drop charges against him.

Daniel Joe Zehm, 52, contacted his wife Sondra Zehm on Saturday at their Dalton Gardens home, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

Police were alerted at 10:15 p.m. that Zehm had called a relative and reported that he was taking his wife to Kellogg, Idaho.

Zehm sprayed his wife with pepper spray and forced her into his vehicle., officials say. He had been driving with her since about 9 p.m, telling Sondra to drop the charges against him, officials say.

Zehm saw the deputies trying to stop him on Fernan Lake Road about 11:15 p.m. He fled toward Coeur d’Alene, running over a spike strip as he reached Fernan Village. He attempted to continue but came to a stop on Sherman Avenue, where he shot himself, police say.

Zehm was arrested in November after pouring gasoline on his wife and trying to light her on fire. He had been released from jail on $200,000 bond for felony charges of burglary and aggravated battery and was prohibited from contacting his wife.

Man dead in suicide/attempted murder

A Spokane woman was wounded Monday in a shooting by her ex-boyfriend, who then fatally shot himself, police said.

The man’s body was found slumped in a yard outside a home converted into apartments in the 3100 block of East Fifth Avenue, according to the Spokane Police Department. A gun was found nearby, neighbors said. Both the victim and gunman are in their mid 20s, police said. The two recently ended a relationship.

Read the rest of my story here.

Dead man’s family doubt SF police claims

In this photo from July 20, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, bottom, addresses Bayview residents upset about the police shooting of Washington state parolee Kenneth Wade Harding in San Francisco. About 300 people gathered for the meeting which ended early following outbursts from some attendees. (AP Photo/San Francisco Chronicle, Noah Berger)

By TERRY COLLINS,Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Distraught relatives of a Washington state parolee who San Francisco police believe fatally shot himself while running away from officers said Monday they are demanding more answers.

Kenneth Harding's family and their attorney said they are troubled with how police have portrayed the shooting. Police first said that the 19-year-old was fatally shot by officers, then said they believed Harding killed himself with his own gun.

“I'm angry and I'm hurt,” Harding's mother, Denika Chatman of Seattle said at a news conference in Oakland. “I want the truth and I want justice to be done.”

Police said officers tried to stop Harding (pictured) while checking for fare evaders on a light-rail train July 16 in the city's Bayview district. His mother said her son, who would have turned 20 on Aug. 5, was in the San Francisco Bay area to visit family and embark on a rap music career.

She also said that her son was enrolled to attend a community college in Seattle this fall.

“We know based upon the police department's shifting stories, conflicting statements, allegations, claims and retractions that the truth seems to be far from at hand,” said Adante Pointer, Harding's family attorney. “A truth that the family is entitled to.”

Police initially said officers gunned down Harding in self-defense after he first shot at them. They later said Harding was a parolee sought for questioning about the fatal shooting of a pregnant woman in Seattle.

Police also that gunshot residue on Harding's right hand backed officers' accounts that Harding fired the first shot as well as audio of the shots captured by a gunshot-detection system used by police.

But angry community reaction to the shooting and videos posted online show Harding bleeding helplessly in the middle of the street as police stood around him with guns drawn and a crowd gathered.

At a packed town hall meeting last week, Police Chief Greg Suhr was cursed and shouted down by outraged residents a short distance from where the shooting took place.

Suhr later said that he now believes Harding shot and killed himself with his own gun. Suhr said after officers shot him in the leg, Harding lurched and fired his gun and the bullet entered the right side of his neck and lodged behind his cheek.

Authorities say they do not know whether Harding killed himself — either intentionally or by accident — with a .380-caliber bullet. A similar bullet was found in Harding's jacket pocket, police said as the gun he apparently used is still missing.

Police said officers only shot Harding in the leg and could not have fired the fatal bullet because they use .40-caliber handguns that cannot fire .380 ammunition.

On Monday, Harding's sister, Mikcolyn Curtis, said her brother told her just hours before her his death that he wanted to provide a better life for their mother.

“He didn't have nothing on his mind to want to blow his brains out,” Curtis said.

Pointer said Harding's family reject the notion that he was on the run and requests police provide them with a preliminary autopsy report, witness statements, surveillance video and the gunshot residue tests.

“So they can have the closure they are entitled to,” Pointer said.

Pointer said they also want witnesses who saw what happened to come forth.

“What's in dispute is the truth and we want to get to the bottom of this situation,” Pointer said. “We've been told a number of different things and we have information that is conflicting. We need to sort this out.”

Police: Dead murder suspect shot self

San Francisco Police chief Greg Suhr speaks at a news conference next to undated booking photos of Kenneth Harding in San Francisco on July 18. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

By TERRY COLLINS,Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A police shooting that stirred community outcry and street protests took a stunning turn Thursday when investigators said they now believe a 19-year-old Washington parolee being sought for questioning in a Seattle murder fatally shot himself in the neck.

Kenneth Harding died Saturday in what San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr previously described as a shootout with police in which Harding fired the first shot.

However, police Cmdr. Mike Biel said Thursday that preliminary autopsy results showed the caliber of the bullet that killed 19-year-old Kenneth Harding did not match the caliber used by police.

“We believe that the fatal wound on Mr. Harding's body was self-inflicted,” Biel said.

John Sanchez, a criminalist at the San Francisco Crime Lab, said the .380-caliber bullet found in Harding's head was not consistent with the.40-caliber guns issued to San Francisco police.

“The bullet could not have been fired from any department-issued firearm,” Sanchez said.

Medical personnel found an unfired .380-caliber bullet in Harding's right jacket pocket, but the gun itself was not recovered, Biel said.

“We want to take this opportunity to reach out to the community in locating the correct weapon,” Biel said. “We believe the weapon that we are looking for is a .380-caliber handgun.”

A gun recovered by police late Saturday as part of the investigation was a .45-caliber pistol and could not have fired the fatal shot, police said.

The only other wound to Harding was a gunshot to his left leg, according to Chief Medical Examiner Amy Hart.

Authorities had not determined whether Harding shot himself on purpose or by accident, police said.

Harding was the main person of interest in last week's South Seattle shooting death of 19-year-old Tanaya Gilbert, Seattle police said. A Seattle police spokesman said he did not have information on the caliber of the gun used in the shooting of Gilbert. No weapon was recovered in that case, Seattle police Detective Mark Jamieson said.

In April, Harding was released from a Washington state prison after he served 22 months for attempting to promote prostitution involving a 14-year-old girl in King County.

Harding had initially been stopped by police in a routine check for fare-beaters on the city's light-rail train system, police said after Saturday's shooting.

Police said Tuesday that gunshot residue on Harding's right hand backed officers' accounts that Harding had fired the first shot, as did audio of the shots captured by a gunshot-detection system used by San Francisco police.

On Tuesday, 43 people were arrested in a raucous rush-hour march to protest Harding's death at the hands of what all believed at the time was police.

On Wednesday night, Suhr was shouted down at a town hall meeting in the city's Bayview neighborhood a short distance from where the shooting took place.

Keevin O'Brien, a minister who co-organized Wednesday's meeting, said he was still trying to process Thursday's developments.

“Nonetheless, we have a dead young man that could've probably changed his life if the police had gotten to him sooner,” O'Brien said. “This should not have happened the way it did.”

O'Brien said the Bayview community is going to have a hard time with the findings.

“They're not going to believe this,” O'Brien said. “They're so broken and hurt by what they already saw. This is going to be hard to digest.”

Biel said Thursday that he also understands likely cynicism in the community.

“I understand how the community feels, however, our investigation is based on total fact. That's what we have now,” Biel said.

O'Brien said he planned on going out in the community Thursday evening to “check its pulse.”

Charges sought in inmate’s drug death

Detectives are seeking a manslaughter charge against a former Spokane County Jail inmate they believe provided prescription drugs used in another inmate's suicide.

Ronald F. Edwards, 41, could be charged with delivery of a legend drug and second-degree manslaughter under a charging recommendation sent  to Spokane County prosecutors.

Detectives believe Edwards provided the prescription antidepressant amitriptyline to Christopher H. Devlin, a convicted killer who died of an overdose on Sept. 20, five days after being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Edwards was one of two jail inmates prescribed the drug.

Investigators believe Edwards gave his daily dose to Devlin after hiding the pills in his mouth so jail employees would believe he'd ingested them.

DNA on a pill hidden in Devlin's mattress matched a DNA sample taken from Edwards at state prison in Forks, Wash., May 6, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office announced today.

Edwards is serving 25 months for third-degree assault. Detectives say Edwards frequently spent time with Devlin when the two were out of their cells.

Devlin was convicted last August of the May 2008 shooting death of 52-year-old Daniel Heily, who was to testify against Devlin in an assault case.

Apparent suicide at in prison at Connell

CONNELL, Wash. (AP) — Coyote Ridge Corrections Center officials say the death of an inmate found hanging in his cell appears to be a suicide.

Spokeswoman Lori Wonders says 26-year-old Michael Araiza was found Saturday and could not be revived by corrections officers and medical staff.

The Tri-City Herald reports he was in the general prison population but didn't have a cellmate.

Araiza had been at the Connell prison since November 2010, serving a sentence from King County for assault with a deadly weapon. He was set to be released in June 2013.

Overdose traced back to inmate’s pills

A convicted killer who committed suicide at the Spokane County Jail did so using pills prescribed to another inmate. 

Now detectives are investigating whether the pill provider could be at least partly responsible for the suicide of Christopher H. Devlin, who was found dead in his jail cell Sept. 20, five days after being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

An autopsy determined Devlin, 58, died of an overdose of amitriptyline, an antidepressant prescribed to only two jail inmates.

Detectives are awaiting test results comparing inmate Ronald F. Edwards' (pictured) DNA to the DNA found on a pill hidden in Devlin’s mattress.

Read the rest of my story here.

Man gets 6 months for assisting suicide

A Spokane man was sentenced today to six months in jail for his role in the suicide of a longtime friend who jumped off the Sunset Bridge.

Melvin Alephus Gillespie, 41, wept as he apologized to the family of William P. Pickard, (pictured) who died June 30 after jumping from the bridge above High Bridge Park. Gillespie helped bind Pickard with a cord to make the death look like a homicide.

“I feel like I failed Billy, I failed God, and I failed his family,” Gillespie said today. “I’m just ashamed more than anything.”

Read the rest of my story here.

 Past coverage:

Feb. 1: Man accused of assisting in Sunset Bridge suicide

Aug. 11: Man was bound before slaying

Aug. 7: Victim's family, friends hold vigil below bridge

July 1: Police find dead man’s car, hope for clues

Police: Man helped friend commit suicide

An acquaintance of a Spokane man who police believe took his own life last summer is now accused of assisting in the suicide.

Family members of William P. Pickard, 38, say Melvin Alephus Gillespie, 40, lied to police for months after Pickard’s death, which detectives believe was staged with rope to look like a homicide.

Pickard’s body was found under the Sunset Bridge on June 30. His car was found four miles away the next day.

Gillespie was arrested Monday on charges of obstructing a public officer and promoting a suicide attempt and is being held at the Spokane County Jail.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 25: Man's death in June believed to be suicide

Aug. 11: Man was bound before slaying

Aug. 7: Victim's family, friends hold vigil below bridge

July 1: Police find dead man’s car, hope for clues

Suicide suspected in June bridge death

Police now believe a Spokane man found dead and bound with a rope under the Sunset Bridge last June committed suicide.

Detectives found a suicide note written by William P. Pickard, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

The nylon rope used to tie Pickard’s hands and neck was apparently loose enough to have been self-applied, police told family members. Handwriting analysis confirmed Pickard wrote the note.

“With all the craziness of it, it really kind of comes down to whether or not you believe that, and personally, I do,” said Daniel Pickard, Pickard’s brother. “I’m 100 percent behind the work the police did on this.”

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 11: Man was bound before slaying

Aug. 7: Victim's family, friends hold vigil below bridge

July 1: Police find dead man’s car, hope for clues

Ruling changes in ex-trooper’s death

A Spokane woman whose daughter's death is the focus of Ann Rule's latest book claimed a victory this week in Lewis County. 

The manner of death on Cheney High graduate Ronda Reynolds' death certificate will be changed to “undetermined” from “suicide” after Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod filed the necessary paperwork with the state Public Heath Department, which will formalize the ruling, the Chronicle of Centralia, Wash., reports.

A jury ruled in November 2009 that a Reynolds' death certificate was wrong, but the coroner at the time, Terry Wilson, refused to change. it. Wilson did not seek reelection last year, and McLeod told the Chronicle that he felt the new coroner had a duty to correct the certificate.

Reynolds, 33, was found dead of a gunshot wound to her head in her bedroom closet in Toledo, Wash., in 1998. Her death was ruled a suicide, but Thompson (left) never believed it.

Best-selling author Ann Rule’s newest book, “In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother’s Unceasing Quest for the Truth” looks at Reynolds’ death and what Rule calls a botched investigation by authorities too quick to believe an estranged husband’s claim of suicide.

Read more from the Centralia Chronicle by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

Oct. 15: State trooper's death focus of Ann Rule book

Hayden man kills self during traffic stop

A Hayden man died Wednesday after shooting himself in the face during a traffic stop in Dalton Gardens, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

Robert J. Kilborn, 48, was driving a red Chevrolet Blazer when a deputy tried to stop him at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday near Government Way and Hanley Avenue for having a faulty exhaust system, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release.

Kilborn failed to stop and continued driving at about 20 miles per hour. Police followed him east on Hanley then south on Valley Street before he pulled into a driveway at 6167 N. Valley St. in Dalton Gardens, where a friend his apparently lived.

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach’s story here.

Sheriff: Deaths may both be suicides

The Chattaroy couple found dead in a trailer home Friday tried to commit suicide in mid-October by overdosing on medication, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said.

The couple, Warren A. Fugitt, 78, and Harriet A. Fugitt, 72, both died from gunshot wounds to the chest. Police initially called it a murder-suicide but now say they are not sure if one shot the other or if they each shot themselves.

A signed suicide note was found on the couple’s nightstand, according to a search warrant police obtained for the home.

Read Chelsea Bannach’s story here.

Murder-suicide suspected in Chattaroy

Detectives are investigating the deaths of an elderly man and woman in Chattaroy as a murder-suicide, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Their bodies were discovered today in a trailer in the 3100 block of East Chattaroy Road. Both are in their 70s.

Fire personnel found a body on the floor of the home after an out-of-sate relative called the sheriff’s office about 9:50 a.m. and asked that deputies check on the couple.

Fire crews left the home to wait for law enforcement after discovering the body.

“Names, cause of death, and manner of death will be provided after autopsy Monday,” sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release.

Family of man in river: ‘Heartbreaking’

A man found dead in the Spokane River on Sunday had a long history of mental illness and likely committed suicide, family said on Monday. 

Peter L. Jose, 34, had schizophrenia but regularly skipped his medication and frequently threatened to harm himself, said Mary Lee Gaston, mother of Jose’s ex-wife.

Gaston’s daughter, who also has schizophrenia, left Jose about a year ago, and he hadn’t seen their young daughter in months because of his ongoing struggle with his mental health, Gaston said.

Gaston learned of Jose’s death Monday after an autopsy by the Spokane County medical examiner’s office.

“It’s just heartbreaking, but it’s just totally out of our hands,” Gaston said. “When people are very, very mentally ill, they have another world they live in. And poor Peter did.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Jose is pictured during theater performances in 2000 and 2006. He was active in the now closed On Stage! theater group.

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