A soft, blue glow illuminated a portion of the Sandpoint Long Bridge on Tuesday night, a show of support for wounded Sandpoint police officers Eric Clark and Michael Hutter.
Around 3 a.m. Monday, Clark and Hutter were met with a hail of gunfire when responding to a call at the Ridley Village apartments, police said. Brandon Kuhlman, a 28-year-old convicted felon, reportedly shot at the officers as soon as he came to the door of a residence.
Officers returned fire, police said, and Kuhlman was found dead inside the apartment.
Hutter, a 30-year law enforcement veteran who came out of retirement in 2016, was shot in the leg and chest. He was released from Bonner County Hospital hours later.
Clark, 27, was taken to Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene after being shot in the hand and neck. He underwent two surgeries and was released Tuesday afternoon, police said.
Sporting a cast on his left hand and a large bandage on the left side of his neck, Clark was met by applause from a lobby full of supporters at Kootenai Health on his release. After shaking the hands of multiple law enforcement members, first responders and citizens, a caravan of patrol vehicles gave Clark a formal 45-mile escort back to Sandpoint.
Monday’s officer shooting was the second in North Idaho in six days. On Feb. 27, Coeur d’Alene police Officer Charles Hatley was shot in the abdomen during a traffic stop.
Hatley and accompanying officers returned fire, killing 34-year-old suspect Curtis B. Ware. Hatley was released from the hospital two days later.
Ware, who was also a convicted felon, had a history of drug-related felonies and served time in prison.
Kuhlman also had drug-related felonies and was discharged from a prison sentence in May 2016, according to the Idaho Department of Corrections website. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance and later violated the terms of his probation.
At age 17 in 2007, Kuhlman was charged with grand theft and burglary, but the grand theft charge was later dismissed.
In the days leading up to his death, Kuhlman’s only Facebook posts referenced Bible verses and a church he said he attended. On a separate Facebook account of Kuhlman’s that had not been updated since 2013, one of the few photos on his profile showed him pointing a semi-automatic rifle toward the camera, with a handgun tucked into the waistband of his jeans.
Stacy Blevins, who described herself as Kuhlman’s aunt on Facebook, posted that her father, Kuhlman’s grandfather, was almost caught in the crossfire between Kuhlman and the officers, and suffered a heart attack at the scene. She said Kuhlman suffered from mental illness.
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