ALGER, Wash. – A shooting spree that stretched from a small northwest Washington town onto the state’s busiest highway left six people dead and at least two more wounded Tuesday.
The dead included a Skagit County sheriff’s deputy and the wounded included a Washington State Patrol trooper shot while trying to catch the shooter on Interstate 5, the State Patrol said. A suspect in the shootings, a recently released convict with a history of mental illness, has surrendered.
State Department of Corrections officials identified the man as Isaac Zamora, 28, who had served a six-month Skagit County jail sentence for drug possession. Zamora was released Aug. 6 and was under community supervision by Corrections officers, spokesman Chad Lewis said.
State Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail said Zamora had reported as instructed and passed tests for drug and alcohol use.
“I want to extend our profound sorrow and heartfelt sympathy for the victims of the shootings in Skagit County,” Vail said in a statement.
Gov. Chris Gregoire called for an independent review to be led by the head of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and a prosecutor to be appointed by the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
“I will be directing them to look into how this case was handled and provide an initial report to me within 10 days,” Gregoire said late Tuesday night.
She asked for a thorough review of the man’s files.
Zamora’s mother said she had tried repeatedly to get help for her son, whom she described as “desperately mentally ill.”
“We’re so devastated for the families,” Dennise Zamora said. “I wish it would have been him or me that was killed. That’s how deeply I feel about it.”
The slain deputy was identified as Anne Jackson, 40, whom Dennise Zamora described as a sympathetic figure who had tried to help the family in the past.
“She was very gracious,” Zamora said. “She knew exactly what we were going through, said her brother was going through some similar stuff.”
WSP Trooper Troy Giddings was grazed on the arm by a bullet. He drove himself to a nearby hospital for treatment and was later released.
The other victims were not immediately identified.
The dead were found at multiple crime scenes. They included Jackson, who was shot while responding to a call, and a second person killed at the same location near the small town of Alger and two construction workers found shot nearby. A third body was found a few houses away, Trooper Keith Leary said. He added that authorities were investigating any possible connection among those sites.
A motorist was shot and killed on I-5 as the suspect fled south.
The wounded included a motorcyclist who was shot in the arm at a Shell gas station in Alger and Giddings, who was hit as the shooter raced along I-5.
After the shootings in the Alger area, the armed man raced south on Interstate 5 at speeds in excess of 90 mph, with troopers, sheriff’s deputies and Mount Vernon police in pursuit, Leary said.
The civilian motorist was shot and killed and the trooper was grazed by a bullet along I-5 near a rest stop, Leary said.
The first shootings were reported shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday and the suspect was in custody by about 4:30 p.m.
State Patrol troopers temporarily closed all southbound lanes of I-5 north of Burlington on Tuesday evening, backing up traffic for miles, as they investigated that crime scene.
“It’s going to be some time before we know what happened,” Leary said.