The Kettle Falls man shot by park rangers at a campground over the weekend had been standing alongside his 9-year-old son when the bullet tore into his torso, family members say.
Few details of the shooting have been disclosed by the National Park Service or investigators with the Washington State Patrol.
The shooting injured Casey Hartinger, 43. It happened after a Saturday night confrontation between rangers and another man who owns a houseboat that was moored at the Kettle River Campground within the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.
At least one park ranger boarded the houseboat in response to a noise complaint.
It’s unclear what prompted a ranger to open fire on Hartinger, 43, who was released Monday from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, apparently without being arrested.
However, the owner of the houseboat, 41-year-old Michael J. Sublie, faces possible federal charges of interfering with law enforcement.
Court documents describe a scuffle that included Sublie shoving a park ranger off the gangplank that stretched from the houseboat to the shore.
Hartinger and Sublie both live in Kettle Falls and are friends. Family members of both men said Monday that neither of the men was armed at the time.
Court documents include allegations that Sublie was uncooperative when rangers approached him. He refused to turn down the music blaring from his boat at about 10:30 p.m. - some 30 minutes after quiet hours had begun. And he refused to identify himself or remove his hands from his pockets as a ranger requested. Sublie was described by rangers as having “a heavy odor of alcoholic beverage” on his breath and at one point yelled obscenities at the rangers as he demanded they leave his boat.
A ranger tried several times to detain Sublie, but each time Sublie is accused of violently raising his arms to resist.
After several failed attempts to detain Sublie, the ranger was pushed backward off the gangplank, according to records.
Court filings do not mention when shots were fired or by whom. The two rangers who responded to the call were identified only by their initials.
Bob Hartinger, the father of the man who was shot, said he’d received word in a phone call from his 13-year-old granddaughter who was on the boat with her 9-year-old brother that Casey Hartinger had been wounded. The 9-year-old stood near his dad when the shots were fired, Bob Hartinger said.
“If the bullet hadn’t hit my son, it would have hit (my grandson) in the head,” he said.
The Washington State Patrol has been investigating the shooting and confirmed Hartinger and Sublie were the two involved. WSP spokesman Jeff Sevigney said witnesses are being interviewed. Detectives have not spoken with the rangers, though Sevigney said those interviews would happen soon.
The National Park Service did not return calls seeking comment Monday. The agency did issue a news release that said it was working with the WSP on a criminal investigation and that it would conduct an internal investigation.
Sublie was booked into Spokane County Jail early Sunday.
He appeared in U.S. District Court on Monday afternoon on federal misdemeanor charges of interfering with a government employee and creating unreasonable noise.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Rodgers, starting his third week on the bench replacing Judge Cynthia Imbrogno, ordered Sublie released without bond.
Sublie’s father, Orville Sublie, sat in the courtroom Monday afternoon with supporters. He said his son and Hartinger were unarmed at the time of the shooting and the Park Service rangers’ actions make no sense.
“What reason did a park ranger have to fire a round?” Sublie asked.
Hartinger pleaded guilty to a felony domestic violence assault charge in Ferry County in 2011, records show.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.