A Maple Valley veterinarian is awaiting a decision by prosecutors whether he will be charged for shooting two people on his property early Friday.
One of the intruders died at the scene. The other is listed in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Neither the suspects nor the homeowner has been publicly identified.
The homeowner called 911 just before 4 a.m. Friday to report that two people were breaking into a shipping container on his property, in the 23200 block of 212th Avenue Southeast. Before deputies could arrive, the homeowner called again to say he had shot the suspects, King County sheriff’s Sgt. Cindi West said.
West said a man was dead when deputies arrived. A woman was airlifted to Harborview, where she was in intensive care Friday night.
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A number of old cars and sheds, plus cargo containers and a motor home, could be seen Friday on the heavily wooded 10-acre parcel, which had been burglarized before. In the past eight days, West said, the 66-year-old homeowner had reported three other burglaries.
West said detectives will recommend the woman be charged with burglary. Next, they must sort through the facts to determine whether the homeowner was justified in shooting the intruders. If the shooting was not justified, he could be criminally charged.
“There’s a lot more to decipher when it comes to him,” West said. He has been cooperating.
When reached by telephone, the homeowner declined to comment.
Among the key questions is whether the homeowner felt he was in imminent physical danger. West said neither of the suspects was believed to be armed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the shooting was not justified.
King County prosecutor’s spokesman Dan Donohoe declined an interview request to elaborate on the law, citing the pending decision. However, in a similar case last year, Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said, “You don’t have to wait to be physically attacked by an intruder; you’re entitled to believe that they intend to do you harm.
“The only limitation on that is a focus on reasonableness. You look at whether there was a reasonable fear that the homeowner was about to be injured,” he added.
A person has “no duty to retreat” when faced with an attack, under Washington case law.
Sheriff’s Detective Jason Stanley noted, as well, that if a homeowner is simply protecting property, he or she is generally not justified in shooting a suspect.
Detectives eventually will pass the case on to prosecutors for a charging decision, which is expected to take at least a week.
The home is in a rural area of the county, where six deputies generally cover a wide swath of territory. Average response time last year was just over five minutes for the most serious calls, according to Sheriff John Urquhart. Response times leapt to more than 13 minutes for the second-most serious category.
The response time for this incident was not immediately available.
Maureen O’Hagan: 206-464-2562 or email@example.com.
Times staff reporter Jack Broom
and news researcher Miyoko Wolf
contributed to this report.