A black and yellow flat-head screwdriver was found in the aftermath of a fatal police shooting in Poulsbo that sent families fleeing from gunfire Wednesday night at a crowded “Third of July” fireworks show, authorities said Friday.
The man who was killed by Poulsbo police officers was reportedly armed with the screwdriver when he lunged at people in the crowd, Bremerton Police Lt. Kevin Crane, acting spokesman for the Kitsap Critical Incident Response Team (KCIRT), said in a news release. A photograph of the slightly bent screwdriver, on the ground next to a police evidence marker, was included in the release from KCIRT, which is leading the investigation.
An autopsy is scheduled for Monday and the man’s name and cause of death will be released when the examination is completed, according to the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office.
Though family members have identified a 39-year-old man on social media as the shooting victim, The Seattle Times’ efforts on Friday to contact relatives and verify his death were unsuccessful.
Poulsbo police had questioned the man a couple of hours before the shooting after other people had raised concerns about his behavior, Crane said in a phone interview. But the man wasn’t arrested at that time, said Crane, adding investigators are working to establish a timeline of events leading up to the shooting.
Around 9 p.m. Wednesday, as a large crowd gathered at Waterfront Park awaiting the start of the annual fireworks display, several people contacted Poulsbo police officers who were working the event and reported that a man was acting strangely, alarming the people around him, Crane wrote in the news release. In addition to being armed with a screwdriver and lunging at people, witnesses complained “of his odd behavior around children and not respecting the personal space of others,” with one witness telling officers the man “threatened a little kid with a screwdriver” and said he was going to hurt somebody, the release says.
The witnesses pointed the man out to officers, who approached him to investigate the complaints, according to the news release. A struggle ensued and one Poulsbo police officer fired at the man, who died from his injuries a short time later, the release says.
The details of what occurred during the struggle and shooting are still under investigation and the officer’s name has not been released.
Poulsbo police are not participating in the investigation, according to the news release. Initiative 940, a recently passed police accountability measure, requires investigations of fatal police shootings be completely independent of the agency whose officer was involved in the use of deadly force. The KCIRT is composed of investigators from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol and the Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Bremerton, Port Orchard and Shelton police departments.
More than 25 investigators are involved in the investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting.
Though the screwdriver was found at the shooting scene, investigators did not find any shell casings, the news release says. However, a woman who was at the park at the time of the shooting contacted police after she got home and found a shell casing that had been inadvertently rolled into a blanket, the release says.
Investigators have identified more than 60 people whom detectives still need to interview and have asked that witnesses and anyone who may have photos or videos taken around the time of the shooting call 360-473-5155 and leave a message.