A suicidal man who was shot to death by police during a nearly two-hour standoff apparently fired a shotgun outside his workplace before officers arrived, according to information released today by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
A sheriff’s K-9 team recovered a portion of a shotgun shell known as a wad in the area where a witness said James Edward Rogers fired a shot before fleeing in a van. No one was injured by that shot in the parking lot.
But about two hours later, Rogers, 45, was killed by Spokane police after refusing commands to put down the shotgun and exit the overturned van, which he had crashed at East Seventh Avenue and South Hatch Street while fleeing officers.
Authorities have given no indication of why officers felt they needed to shoot Rogers after nearly two hours of negotiations.
Investigators are interviewing citizens and officers who witnessed the shooting and canvassed the neighborhood Tuesday gathering witness accounts.
Detectives also interviewed Rogers’ coworkers at SL Start, an assisted living facility at 811 S. Hatch. Rogers had worked for SL Start for about a year when an employee called 911 Monday to say he was suicidal and in possession of a firearm.
Authorities recovered the shotgun and are searching the 1993 Chevrolet van today, said Sgt. Dave Reagan. The sheriff’s office is leading the investigation.
The van and shotgun belong to Rogers’ father, Alonzo Rogers. Rogers’ family had spent Monday looking for him as he called them repeatedly from different locations, talking of suicide. Rogers was an alcoholic, family said.
Rogers’ sister, Angela Crigger, was on the phone with police when she heard the gunfire. Alonzo Rogers was en route to the scene to help police persuade his son to surrender.
Alonzo Rogers said the shotgun was difficult to reload because of a malfunction. “He would have had to take time to dig it out and put in another one,” Rogers said.
Rogers doesn’t know if his son had extra shotgun shells in the van.
“I’ll be curious to see if they found any in the van,” he said today.
Reagan would not say if the officer or officers who fired shots have given tactical briefings or full interviews but said the information will be released “in the near future.”