Doug Snarski knew someone was going to die when he realized his girlfriend’s ex was inside their home early Sunday.
The intruder, Sean Parsons, was armed with a shotgun, a handgun, a belt stocked with ammunition and yelling about how no one would be getting out of the house alive. Parsons had arrived at the Newman Lake home about 12:30 a.m. – just hours after he’d been served with a restraining order that prohibited him from going within two miles of the house.
“He didn’t come here to get on my Christmas list,” Snarski said Monday at his home, where he’s lived for 27 years. “He was on a mission to kill.”
In what law enforcement officials are describing as an apparent act of self-defense, Snarski, 55, shot Parsons to death after Parsons, 43, fired the shotgun and handgun up the stairs where his ex-girlfriend and Snarski were hiding.
“His quick thinking most definitely saved both him and his girlfriend’s lives,” said Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Dispatchers at Spokane County’s 911 center heard the confrontation, including the fatal shots, because Snarski dialed 911 after he grabbed a handgun from his nightstand when he realized Parsons was inside the home.
“I believe everyone should have some kind of pistol for their own protection, for your own safety,” Snarski said. “If I didn’t think like that I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Dispatchers heard him order Parsons to leave several times. Snarksi showed the armed intruder that he also had a firearm and retreated around the corner. When Parsons continued to advance up the stairs, Snarski was ready – he’d gotten down on the ground and was aiming upward, figuring Parsons wouldn’t expect him to be so low.
“I just popped up and let him have it,” Snarski said. “If he’d made it past that last step he would have killed us.”
An autopsy Monday concluded Parsons died of gunshot wounds to his abdomen and right hip, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office. His manner of death is homicide, but Chamberlin said it’s unlikely Snarski will face charges.
“He handled it perfect, from getting the protection order to maintaining his composure in an extremely stressful situation,” Chamberlin said. “You have people who are trained in situations like that who very easily could have not have thought” to keep 911 on the phone during the confrontation.
Snarski’s girlfriend, identified in court documents as Christina Lewis, 51, wasn’t the only person who feared Parsons enough to obtain a restraining order against him.
His former boss at Loomis Armored Car Services in Spokane, where Lewis also works, had obtained one that prevented Parsons from going within two miles of his office or his home. In his petition, Daniel Schulberg, 38, described Parsons as an alcoholic whom he’d terminated on March 19. Schulberg described Parsons as a “gun fanatic and is always armed” and has been harassing other employees. He said he received six threatening phone calls from Parsons beginning May 4, including a voicemail in which he claimed to be outside Schulberg’s home, according to the request for the restraining order.
“I believe he would kill me or my family if given the opportunity,” Schulberg wrote. Spokane County District Court Judge Patty Walker signed the order on May 8, the same day she signed the order prohibiting Parsons from contacting his ex-girlfriend or going within two miles of Snarski’s home.
Lewis said in her petition for a restraining order that Parsons’ mother tried to get him to enroll in an alcoholism program in Seattle, but Parsons refused because the union at Loomis was fighting for his job and he didn’t want to be in treatment if they called him back to work, according to court documents.
“Sean has stated many times that ‘if he can’t have me nobody can,’ ” Lewis wrote. “He is now acting on that.”
Chamberlin said the restraining orders will help investigators establish a pattern of threats.
Snarski and Lewis had received threatening phone calls and voicemails from Parsons, which prompted them to obtain the restraining order. It also helped Snarski prepare for Sunday’s confrontation.
“I knew he was capable of something like this,” Snarski said. Snarski said Parsons told them that he knew where the couple lived and added that he didn’t think their dog seemed like much of a watchdog. Snarski said the 9-year-old yellow lab named Buddy was in the bedroom during the shooting and still appears bothered by the incident.
The couple were in bed but not asleep when they realized Parsons was in the home. Lewis had gone outside to smoke a cigarette about a half hour earlier. The door was inadvertently left unlatched. Parsons entered and began yelling, “Where are you?” Snarski didn’t realize who it was until Lewis said, “That’s Sean’s voice,” according to Snarski.
“That’s when I jumped up, grabbed my handgun and called 911,” Snarski said.
After the exchange of gunfire, Snarski said the mortally wounded Parsons asked where he’d been shot as he lay on the carpeted hallway in the upper level of Snarski’s home. Snarski was angry with him for entering his home with guns, threatening his life, then bleeding all over his hallway.
“I said, ‘Who cares, you’re going to die,’ because I knew he was. He was getting real pale,” Snarski said. “He had his own death wish. I just wish I wasn’t part of it.”
Snarski, a self-employed general contractor, has two children, ages 21 and 23, who sometimes stay at the home. He said he’d bought the handgun about a year ago but had never fired it before Sunday’s encounter.
“The main thing is my girlfriend didn’t get hurt and my kids will be able to see their dad another day,” Snarski said.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.