Convinced he’d catch his wife in bed with another man, Sam “Skip” Elsom burst into an Airway Heights apartment early Wednesday with a camera, a bat and a 45-caliber handgun.
Minutes later, while his 12-year-old daughter looked on, Elsom clutched his bullet-torn chest and fell to the sidewalk in front of Stan Parker’s home.
The 34-year-old truck driver died before police arrived. His wife, Christine, hadn’t been in the apartment after all.
“He was such a good, good kid,” said Elsom’s father, Sam Elsom, Sr. “It was not in Skip to go looking for someone with a gun. I can’t imagine what got into him.”
Elsom had driven to the apartment from his home in Elk, Wash. He brought his daughter with him, telling her to stay in the car when they arrived at the apartment.
The shooting started around 12:30 a.m., when Elsom pushed his way into Parker’s two-bedroom apartment on the 1900 block of South Lincoln.
Once inside, he flung Parker’s bedroom door open, flashed one photograph and raised an aluminum bat into the air, said Juan Zamarripa, who lives with Parker.
“Then I just heard shooting and saw gunfire,” Zamarripa said. He sat in the shade of a tree in the Solar World Estates complex, while detectives scraped blood off his living room carpet a few feet away.
“It happened so fast,” Zamarripa said. “Then the man walked out and I shut the door. I didn’t know if he would come back and kill me.”
Parker, 36, who manages YZ Electric, was shot twice in his hands. One bullet bounced off his 9 mm handgun and burrowed into his leg. He was taken to Deaconess Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition late Wednesday.
He has not been arrested.
Zamarripa said he yelled Parker’s name when the stranger stormed inside, a move he thinks may have saved his roommate’s life.
“I tried to warn him someone was coming,” said Zamarripa, who has worked for Parker for five years. “It was over so fast.”
Detectives said more than a dozen bullets were fired in the shootout.
One went through a wall into an apartment next door, where it lodged inside a video cassette recorder just inches from where two children were sleeping on the floor.
Another bullet zipped through an exterior wall of Parker’s unit and whizzed more than 300 feet through the complex, finally slamming into the aluminum siding of another apartment.
“A lot of rounds were fired off here last night,” said Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Mark Henderson. “A lot. We’re still finding (shells) and counting bullet holes.”
Broken glass and chunks of blown-out plaster littered Parker’s apartment. Knives and guns of all shapes and sizes decorated one wall.
“He’s a collector,” Matt Halverson said of the weapons display.
Halverson, who also works for Parker, joined Zamarripa outside the apartment and smoked a cigarette. They watched quietly as detectives hosed blood from the sidewalk.
Halverson said Parker has a wife and two children in Texas, and travels regularly to visit them.
“He’s a great guy,” Halverson said. “I don’t know anybody who’d want to hurt him.”
Detectives said Elsom’s wife, Christine, works for Parker. But Halverson and Zamarripa said they’d never heard of her. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.
Detectives said Parker was asleep in his room alone when Elsom arrived. They described the killing as the end to “another nasty love triangle.”
Skip Elsom was trying to save his rocky marriage, his father said Wednesday. He blamed the problems Elsom was having with his wife on a job that kept him away from home for weeks at a time.
“He loved his family more than anything,” Sam Elsom said. “He wouldn’t have hurt anybody. Especially not with his daughter there. I just don’t believe that. Something’s not right.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo