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Thursday, November 14, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Moscow gunman taunted officer

By Nicholas K. Geranios Associated Press

The man who gunned down a Moscow, Idaho, police officer last year taunted the fallen lawman, yelling “officer down,” after shooting him, according to a newly released Idaho State Police report on the incident that left four people dead and two wounded.

Shooter Jason Hamilton killed himself at the end of a rampage that occurred almost one year ago, on May 19 and 20, 2007.

The State Police’s detailed narrative of the incident was produced last July, but only released this week as the pending anniversary brought new media attention to the case, said ISP Lt. Charlie Spencer in Lewiston.

Officer Lee Newbill had served with the police department since 2001 and was the city’s first officer killed in the line of duty. On Tuesday, his name was added to the wall of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. He is survived by his wife, three adult children and four grandchildren.

The ISP report said that Hamilton, 32, went to Mingles Bar in Moscow around 8:30 p.m. on May 19 with a co-worker to drink beer. He returned home two hours later and had a confrontation with his wife, Crystal, that ended when she was killed by a gunshot wound to the head.

Armed with two rifles, Hamilton drove to the First Presbyterian Church in Moscow. He broke into the church and walked to where the doors faced the Latah County sheriff’s office.

At 11:22 p.m. dispatchers in the sheriff’s office came under fire, with bullets striking inside their office. Dispatcher Marci Williams called for help.

Hamilton fired 102 rounds into the sheriff’s office, the report said.

Sheriff’s deputies and city police arrived, including Newbill and police Officer Bill Shields. As they were crossing Adams Street, Hamilton opened fire on them, shooting 15 times.

Newbill yelled “down” as he was hit in the chest by a round that penetrated his body armor. Shields retreated for cover while radioing that Newbill had been hit.

“Hamilton stood and said in a derogatory, mocking manner ‘Officer down,’ ” the report said.

Hamilton then went back inside the church and, a few minutes later, opened fire on University of Idaho student Peter Husmann, who had heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene with a pistol.

Husmann was hit four times and fell in the parking lot. As Hamilton continued firing a total of 31 times at him, Husmann got up and ran out of harm’s way. He survived.

Church caretaker Paul Bauer, who was sleeping in the building, got up to investigate the disturbance. At 11:41 p.m., Bauer called 911 from a room near where Hamilton was shooting at Husmann. Hamilton walked across the room and fired six shots at Bauer, killing him while he was on the phone.

Four officers arrived to remove Newbill from the scene, and lifted him inside their vehicle.

But Deputy Brannon Jordan fell out of the back of the rescue vehicle as it raced away from the scene.

Jordan was shot in the back and arm as he took cover behind a tree. The rescuers raced back and removed him from the scene. Jordan has since returned to duty.

About 90 minutes after Hamilton first opened fire, authorities heard one muffled shot from inside the church. Shortly before 6 a.m. SWAT teams entered the church and found Bauer dead.

Hamilton was found sitting on a bench in the sanctuary with a rifle cradled between his legs, dead from “massive gunshot trauma to his head,” the report said. Cigarettes on the floor indicated he had been pacing.

Four hours later, officers went to Hamilton’s home and found the body of his wife.

In the home they also found evidence indicating Jason Hamilton was taking medication for depression, panic disorder, seizures, insomnia, anxiety and paranoia. He had also been using a computer to research bomb-making techniques.

No motive for the shootings has been established.

Wordcount: 629

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