The man who was fatally shot by Bellevue SWAT officers in South Seattle on Friday morning was a suspected robber who was attempting to run down officers with his car, according to Seattle police.
The suspect, who has not been publicly identified, was in his car at his brother’s house near South Hudson Street and 42nd Avenue South around 5 a.m. when Bellevue SWAT officers arrived to serve a warrant, Seattle police said.
Seattle police, who are investigating the officer-involved shooting, said that as SWAT officers approached the residence they noticed one of the men they were looking for was in the driver’s seat of a Mercedes-Benz parked in the driveway.
“The suspect noticed the SWAT officers, too,” according to a news statement released by Seattle police. “He put the car in reverse and backed up with such velocity and disregard that he struck a parked Ford F-250 pickup truck and pushed it several yards into the street.”
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Bellevue officers gave numerous commands for the suspect to stop, but the man switched the car into drive and stepped on the gas, police said.
Three Bellevue officers who fired their weapons were afraid the suspect would “drive them over rather than surrender,” Seattle police said.
The three officers, who have not been named, have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure after a police shooting.
Seattle police said one of the Bellevue officers fired a handgun and the two others fired rifles.
The wounded man was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he died, police said.
Police said there was no one inside the house, but the suspect’s brother was questioned. Once it was determined the brother was not a suspect and was legally carrying a firearm, he was allowed to leave with the gun, according to Seattle police spokeswoman Renee Witt.
According to Bellevue police spokeswoman Carla Iafrate, SWAT officers were attempting to serve warrants on the suspect’s residence and vehicle in connection with a series of robberies in Bellevue and other jurisdictions.
She said it’s common for officers to work in other areas and that while Bellevue SWAT was leading the operation, Seattle police detectives were standing by to question the suspects.
She did not release additional information on Friday about the robberies or any other suspects, except to say there had been at least three robberies.
Juli and John Russell, who live across the street from the suspect’s brother’s home, said they were startled by gunfire, police yelling commands on a loudspeaker and the sight of a man’s body on their street.
“Early this morning, we heard gunshots outside of our house. A lot of voices, yelling, at like 5 in the morning,” said Juli Russell, a graphic designer.
“I was up already, and when I looked out the window, my husband and I saw a car crash into another car, a Bellevue SWAT vehicle and a body that was shot.”
Neighbor David Keyes said, “We hunkered down on the floor in the bedroom and tried to stay safe. We knew this was not kids messing around with fireworks at 5 in the morning.”
He said police evacuated them from their home about a half-hour later.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.