A shooting spree in Skagit County has left six people dead and two injured by a man authorities describe as a well-known criminal with mental problems. State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary said 28-year-old Isaac Zamora of Alger, known to have a mental illness, was arrested after turning himself in at the Skagit County Sheriff's Office.
ALGER, Skagit County — A man shot and killed a sheriff’s deputy and five other people, and wounded two more, during a shooting rampage near his rural home and a high-speed chase along Interstate 5 Tuesday afternoon.
The suspect, 28-year-old Isaac Zamora of Alger, has a criminal record and a history of mental problems and had been living in the woods. He ended the violent rampage and ensuing high-speed chase when he turned himself in Tuesday afternoon at the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office.
Anne Jackson, a 40-year-old Skagit County sheriff’s deputy, was the only slain victim identified by authorities Tuesday night.
Dennise Zamora, the suspect’s mother, said her son was “extremely mentally ill” and had been living in the woods on and off for years. He was released last month from jail after a drug offense and was under Department of Corrections supervision, according to a department spokesman.
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Dennise Zamora said Jackson was aware of her son’s illness and told the Zamora family to call her anytime for help.
After watching Isaac walk in and out of neighbors’ homes, Dennise Zamora called deputies on Tuesday. She said her son wasn’t aware of his mental illnesses.
Dennise Zamora said she wished she could switch places with the people slain Tuesday.
“When I say I wish it was me and not them, I mean it from the bottom of my heart,” she said, sobbing.
Isaac Zamora is suspected of starting the shooting spree in a small stretch of homes along a gravel road near Alger, a town of fewer than 100 people in North Skagit County. After killing Jackson and four others in the rural neighborhood, Zamora drove away and shot and wounded a motorcyclist and State Patrol trooper Troy Giddings, 42, authorities said. He also shot and killed another man in a vehicle on a nearby stretch of southbound Interstate 5, they said. Two other people were injured, but police didn’t provide details.
“We’re not only mourning the death of a member of our law enforcement community but the deaths of six people in this community,” said Everett police spokesman Robert Goetz, who was brought in to investigate as part of a joint law enforcement investigation.
Monique Stefens, of Skagit County, said she and Anne Jackson had been best friends since attending Santa Barbara (Calif.) High School in the late 1980s. She said Jackson moved to Skagit County to be closer to Stefens and her family, including her sons, who called her “Auntie Anne.”
She started work at the department as an animal control officer in 2002, and became a deputy in 2005, authorities said at a news conference Tuesday night.
“She just loved being a deputy,” Stefens said, crying. “She just loved her job. She put her heart and thought into it.”
Stefens said Jackson was an accomplished equestrian who owned a large property with horses. Before joining the sheriff’s office, Jackson managed a horse barn, Stefens said.
While Jackson never mentioned Zamora to Stefens by name, she said it doesn’t surprise her that Jackson gave the suspect’s family her contact information. “She really felt people needed a chance.”
The shooting spree came to light at about 2:15 p.m. when Jackson went to investigate Dennise Zamora’s call in the 19300 block of Bridle Place, near the town of Alger, and didn’t check in with dispatchers, said Washington State Patrol spokesman Keith Leary.
Other deputies went to the scene and found her dead. A second victim was found dead at the same address, Leary said.
Police chased Zamora south on I-5, with Zamora still shooting. A motorist driving an SUV south on I-5 was shot and killed, his car coming to rest in the median near Bow Hill Road, Leary said.
Giddings also was grazed in the arm during the chase, authorities said. He drove himself to United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The chase ended when Zamora, in a full-size pickup, drove to a Skagit County Sheriff’s Office in Mount Vernon and surrendered. He was arrested and booked into Skagit County Jail, Leary said.
Shortly afterward, two construction workers were found dead at a house under construction in the 19500 block of Silver Creek Drive. A fifth body was found a few houses down, Leary said.
Leary said authorities are investigating any connection among the sites. “It’s going to be some time before we know what happened,” Leary said.
Dennise Zamora said her son, who sometimes worked as a house painter, had struggled with mental illness since their family’s house burned down more than a decade ago. She said he was “agreeable” and “placid” Tuesday morning and that she didn’t know what made him snap. She also said she didn’t know where he got the gun used in the shootings.
Barbara Crossen, who lives across the street from the Zamora family, said Dennise Zamora came to Crossen’s home Tuesday afternoon and asked her to look after a young boy.
“She said, ‘Keep him here, Isaac has gone crazy,’ ” said Crossen, who added she’d known Isaac Zamora since he was born and never saw any signs of trouble. “He was always quiet and never demanded a lot of attention or anything. That’s why I think we’re so shocked.”
Joe Corbell, a longtime friend of the Zamora family who lives in Alger, said Isaac is a quiet, withdrawn person. He said he believed Isaac had received some psychiatric treatment, “But it’s never really been to the point where it’s done him any good.”
Another neighbor, John Hughes, said he and his 21-year-old grandson, Johnathen, have seen Zamora walking on the road alone by himself at all hours.
Zamora was under state supervision and considered a high-risk offender, with convictions for theft and drug possession. While Zamora was regarded as a nonviolent offender, he was supervised at a high level because of his long-standing mental-health issues, according to DOC records. Zamora last reported to his probation officer in Mount Vernon on Aug. 21.
In a news release, DOC Secretary Eldon Vail said Zamora had been released from jail during the first week of August. He had been serving time for felony drug possession, according to court records.
After his release, Zamora had reported to his community corrections officer twice as instructed, DOC said. A urine analysis indicated no drug or alcohol consumption.
Governor Christine Gregoire Tuesday night called for an independent review of how Zamora’s case was handled.
Seattle Times Staff Reporters Noelene Clark, Sara Jean Green, Steve Miletich, Christine Willmsen and Lornet Turnbull contributed to this report.
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