Arrow-right Camera


UI senior shot while trying to help

Tue., May 22, 2007

MOSCOW – Armed with a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, Peter Husmann ran out of his apartment in answer to a rain of gunshots in his neighborhood.

The 20-year-old University of Idaho student and longtime Coeur d’Alene resident was hoping to help those injured by the shooter late Saturday.

Instead, Husmann was shot three times by 36-year-old Jason Hamilton, who also killed his wife, Crystal Hamilton, a Moscow police officer and a church sexton before turning the gun on himself early Sunday.

“He could see the bullets hitting off the pavement, the sparks,” Husmann’s mother, Janice Husmann, said Monday before her son underwent surgery.

The first bullet tore through the engineering student’s back, lung, liver and diaphragm, knocking him to the ground, his mother said.

The avid hunter told his mother his initial thought was, “Now I know what a deer feels like.”

Husmann told his mother he prayed to God to let him live as he lay bleeding in the dark, bullets flying above.

“While he was on the ground, the shooter kept shooting,” Janice Husmann said.

Her son was hit again, in front of his windpipe, the bullet exiting through his shoulder. A third shot struck his upper thigh.

Husmann told his mother he didn’t want her to see him shot up and dead. So he got up and ran for cover, first behind some bushes, then a car. He asked others taking cover from the sniper to fashion a tourniquet for his leg and place a compress on his chest.

The Husmanns have lived in the Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene area for 17 years, Janice Husmann said. She home-schooled Peter and his younger sister, Molly.

Though Husmann is lanky – nearly 6 feet and just over 100 pounds – his mother said he has muscular upper arms and shoulders from being a competitive swimmer in high school. He lost about a third of the muscles in the arm and shoulder hit by the bullet, she said.

She was visiting family in Mesa, Ariz., when a medic called to tell her Peter had been in an accident. Janice Husmann thought it was a car accident until she was told shots had been fired.

“It’s the phone call every mother wishes she doesn’t hear in the middle of the night,” she said.

She said her son, who is in stable condition at Gritman Medical Center, is in good spirits. They talked about his Mother’s Day gift: Husmann dug post holes and fixed his mother’s fence.

“I joked, ‘Thanks, Pete, for fixing my fence last weekend,’ ” she said.

Family friend Debbie Maddox, of Post Falls, said Peter Husmann is sweet and kind and was always willing to help her rake leaves and do other chores around her house.

When Maddox saw him in the hospital, the first thing he did was compliment her hair. A medic told his friends and family that Husmann was flirting with a nurse on his way into surgery.

Janice Husmann said she’s not surprised her son tried to be a hero. “He would never be a bystander, watching something happen,” she said.

Another civilian became involved at the scene, Moscow Police Chief Dan Weaver said. The man, who had a handgun and a semiautomatic weapon in his car, was stopped by police as he drove through the crime scene.

Weaver said police initially mistook the man for a shooter and brought him to the police station in handcuffs to be interviewed.

The chief said he was concerned that the two men got involved, especially with law enforcement already at the scene.

“It is not a help. In fact, it’s a hindrance and it greatly places people in danger,” Weaver said. “The police are liable to shoot someone with a gun.”

A civilian trying to offer help could become another victim, he said.

Latah County Sheriff Wayne Rausch said people have the right to defend themselves. But “in a situation where clearly police officers are responding, you don’t need to take the law into your own hands,” he said.

Click here to comment on this story »