Robert Sullivan was often kicked out of the Georgian Motel for showing up after the 9 p.m. curfew that management set to keep out drug buyers...

Share story

Robert Sullivan was often kicked out of the Georgian Motel for showing up after the 9 p.m. curfew that management set to keep out drug buyers and prostitutes.

“Sully,” as he was known around the North Seattle motel, had always been full of empty threats, said motel manager Tom Simcox. But after being evicted Wednesday night, Sullivan struck Simcox with an expandable steel baton and shot at him. Sullivan, a convicted felon wanted by the state Department of Corrections (DOC), then turned his gun on two Seattle police officers, police said.

The 28-year-old opened fire on officers Troy Swanson and Jon Huber and they shot back, police said. Sullivan was pronounced dead only a few blocks from the Aurora Avenue North motel. Swanson, 34, was rushed to Harborview Medical Center with a gunshot wound. He was listed Thursday night in satisfactory condition.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

Simcox, 23, said he watched as Swanson was shot.

“My heart fell out. I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I was glad to hear Troy is going to be OK. That dude is a great dude.”

The officers were driving on Aurora Avenue North about 10 p.m., when Simcox ran up and demanded help. Simcox said he told them about Sullivan’s threats and Sullivan ran off. The two plainclothes officers drove after Sullivan. Simcox and a friend followed on foot.

Seconds later, Sullivan turned, fired three times at Simcox and missed. The officers then pulled their vehicle between the two men, Simcox said.

Sullivan unloaded his .22-caliber gun into the driver’s-side door and window. One bullet slipped beneath Swanson’s bulletproof vest and struck him in the abdomen, said Assistant Police Chief Clark Kimerer.

Swanson and his partner got out of the car and started shooting at Sullivan. Huber’s bullets are believed to have killed the Seattle man, Kimerer said.

Swanson is the fourth police officer in King County wounded or killed in the past five months by a recently released former inmate.

Seattle Police officer Joselito Barber was killed in August and Seattle officer Beth Nowak in November, both struck by cars driven by recent released inmates. King County sheriff’s Deputy Steve Cox was shot and killed last month. The DOC said it is reviewing those three deaths as part of a policy review ordered by Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Gary Larson, DOC spokesman, said the agency will also review how Sullivan was monitored by DOC community-corrections officers. Such a review is standard when “an offender on community supervision causes death or serious injury.”

“The governor has asked for a report on the earlier incidents,” Larson said. “I’m not sure how this situation will work into that.”

Sullivan had been monitored by the DOC since Oct. 30, about the time he wrapped up a nearly one-year King County Jail sentence for drug possession, Larson said. Sullivan didn’t report for a substance-abuse evaluation Dec. 7 and an arrest warrant was issued the next day, Larson said.

When police searched Sullivan’s body Wednesday night, they found a fanny pack filled with heroin, drug-injecting and packaging materials as well as a scale, Kimerer said.

With Swanson and Huber on leave, four members of the eight-person North Precinct Anti-Crime team are off duty because of officer-involved shootings. Officers Tom Hanley and Darren Long are on leave while police investigate a Jan. 4 shooting that wounded a Bellevue man.

Raymond Louie, 42, who was charged Thursday with assault, was shot after he drove toward Hanley, according to prosecutors.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.