SPOKANE, Wash. — A sheriff’s deputy was killed in central Washington state and a police officer was shot and wounded after they exchanged gunfire with a road rage driving suspect, authorities said Wednesday. The driver was also shot and later died at a hospital.
The events unfolded Tuesday evening when the two officers tried to stop the suspect’s vehicle after authorities received a complaint about the motorist’s driving, said Ellensburg Police Chief Ken Wade.
The suspect, who has not been identified, was chased by police until the driver stopped the car near the town of Kittitas. He got out and exchanged gunfire with the sheriff’s deputy and the police officer, Wade said.
“It was reported as a road-rage type event, with erratic driving on the part of the suspect,” said Wade, whose office is investigating the incident.
Sheriff’s deputy Ryan Thompson, 42, was killed and Kittitas police officer Benito Chavez, 22, was shot in the leg and suffered a shattered femur, Wade said.
The suspect died at a hospital and Wade said authorities were still trying to identify him. Authorities did not provide information about how many times he was shot and Wade said he did not know how many shots were fired overall by the officers and the suspect.
Thompson had been a law enforcement officer for years, joined the sheriff’s department in 2013 and is survived by his wife and three children, said Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana.
“Our community has a very heavy heart today,” Dana told reporters. “This officer was a great officer.”
It was the first fatal shooting of a law enforcement officer in the rural county in 92 years, he said.
Wade said authorities have no other information besides the road rage incident for what might have prompted the suspect to flee and exchange gunfire with the officers.