Dan Anderson was on patrol in Brier, a town of about 6,300 in South Snohomish County, just after midnight on July 30 when his police radio crackled with reports of the shooting at a Mukilteo house.
Dan Anderson says he was stunned to learn that he’d been fired from the Brier Police Department for rushing to the aid of fellow officers after last month’s shooting that left three dead at a Mukilteo house party.
But he isn’t sorry for doing what he did.
“At the end of the day, you have to do what you think is right and let the chips fall where they may,” said Anderson, who had joined the Brier force eight months ago after serving 25 years as a Washington State Patrol trooper.
“It’s the department’s prerogative to make that call and they did, but truthfully I was stunned,” he said.
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Anderson was on patrol in Brier, a town of about 6,300 in South Snohomish County, just after midnight on July 30 when his police radio crackled with reports of the shooting at a Mukilteo house.
“I heard officers on the scene who felt they were in a vulnerable position with a possible shooter on the roof and they were asking for officers to respond. Whatever they said created enough emergency in me to believe this was a desperate situation,” he said. “It was a tactical situation and they needed more bodies and more rifles and I had one and here I come.”
Although Brier is about 12 miles from Mukilteo, Anderson said he was among the first officers on the scene. By that time, three people were dead, a fourth was wounded and the suspected gunman had fled.
Anderson, 51, who was still a probationary officer with Brier, said he was fired on Monday by Police Chief Mike Catlett.
Although his termination letter says simply that an officer on probation can be terminated at the city’s discretion, Anderson said the chief told him it was because he left his post the night of the shooting in Mukilteo.
According to Anderson, Catlett said he was fired “because you left the city unprotected and went to the shooting in Mukilteo and you can’t tell me other officers were not closer.”
Anderson was the only officer on duty in Brier, which has a total of six patrol officers, according to the city’s website.
Anderson says he understands the chief’s position, but he believes department policy and common sense gave him the discretion to respond to what was reported as an “active shooter” incident.
Indeed, the Washington State Washington Mutual Aid Peace Powers Act gives officers authority to act in other jurisdictions “in response to an emergency involving an immediate threat to human life or property.” But as a probationary officer, Anderson’s employment was at the discretion of the city and, the chief’s letter said, he could be “terminated without recourse to the grievance process.”
Neither Catlett nor Brier Mayor Bob Colinas returned calls for comment.
Since news of his termination broke in local media, Anderson has been lauded on social media and websites by officers and citizens for taking the initiative. He also says he has been asked to apply for positions at five law-enforcement agencies.
A former Brier official with knowledge of the situation cautioned against drawing conclusions. “There’s always two sides to the story,” said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The night of the shooting, Anderson was working his regular overnight shift in Brier, where he says he could go days without a call for service. That was when his radio came alive with Mukilteo police officers calling for backup.
Although officers from Mountlake Terrace, Everett, Edmonds, Lynnwood, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and Washington State Patrol responded to the call for help, Anderson said he was among the first officers on the scene.
“They had not cleared the house yet and we were the first ones in. I saw a body on the ground. The color was good so I dragged him out (so medics could attempt treatment) and then I went back in and found another body and this one was pale. I asked Mukilteo officers what I could do to help and then I took all the statements from the 14 people, created a witness list and rushed back to Brier around 2:45 (a.m.),” said Anderson.
He said he did not alert his supervisor, which he admits is called for by policy, because it was the middle of the night and he was sleeping.
“It was a judgment call,” he said.
Marko Liias,spokesman for Mukilteo, did not want to weigh in on Anderson’s firing.
“But what I can say is we’re a small community,” he said. “We could not have dealt with the scope of the tragedy on our own and we’re really grateful to all the agencies that responded and helped us.”
Anderson said, in retrospect, he just may not have been the right fit for Brier.
“They’re a little different in Brier and they’ve got a different mission.”