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Man Killed After Taking Family Hostage

Sat., July 26, 1997

A marriage not yet 3 months old ended tragically when William A. Lawrence took a shot at his wife and a Pend Oreille County sheriff’s deputy shot him dead.

The shooting occurred about midnight Thursday at a mobile home near Diamond Lake. Lawrence, 39, had taken his wife, Brandi, and two young children hostage with a sawed-off shotgun.

Lawrence released the two girls, ages 5 and 7, but sheriff’s officers and a mental health counselor couldn’t persuade him to free his wife. She was rescued without injury after her husband fired a blast that narrowly missed her head.

Sheriff Doug Malby said he had ordered his officers not to shoot even though Lawrence pointed the shot gun at his wife’s head several times and threatened to shoot her. Lawrence also pointed the gun at his own head several times, Malby said.

The sheriff and six other officers, including a reserve deputy and a Newport city policeman, had surrounded the house.

“I was really hoping we could negotiate him out,” Malby said.

That changed, he said, when Lawrence fired his weapon. A deputy opened fire through a screen door and killed the suspect before he could get off a second round.

Malby said he wasn’t sure how many shots the deputy fired from his .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol.

“We rushed the house and got the woman out,” Malby said.

The sheriff said he will wait until Monday to identify the deputy who shot Lawrence. He said he wants the veteran officer, who is on routine administrative leave, to have time to receive counseling and start to recover from the shock.

Meanwhile, Malby said he has asked the Washington State Patrol to investigate the incident. He said Brandi Lawrence and the children were taken immediately to the Family Crisis Network shelter in Newport, and authorities still didn’t know Friday what led up to the fatal confrontation.

Malby said officers responded when someone believed to be a neighbor reported a disturbance. He said Lawrence had been seeing a mental health counselor, but he didn’t know Lawrence’s medical history.

“We believe there was alcohol involved,” the sheriff added.

That was one of the issues to be resolved by an autopsy Friday.

Lawrence has no felony convictions or domestic-violence charges in Eastern Washington or nearby Bonner County in Idaho.

Public records show he was divorced and Brandi Cayocca had never been married when the two former Newport residents were wedded in early May.

Authorities weren’t sure Friday whether one or both of the children involved in the hostage-taking belong to Brandi Lawrence.

, DataTimes

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