Juan Rene Hummel Jr. enjoyed making videos for his YouTube channel, where he would post electronics reviews and musings about his daily life. In one, he reviews Oculus Rift. In another, he narrates his encounter with a beaver in a creek. He occasionally posted videos from his walks to and from his house in Bothell.
The 25-year-old always walked the same route, said his mother, Raquel Hummel, not far from where they lived with Hummel’s dad and three of his five siblings. It was on that same route that he was fatally shot by a Bothell police officer in late July.
“He wasn’t a nobody, he wasn’t homeless, he wasn’t a monster, he wasn’t out to hurt anybody,” Raquel Hummel said. “He was just going out to walk.”
Hummel’s family spoke outside Bothell City Hall on Wednesday before leaving 50 letters from friends and family members, along with his framed photo, outside the building. They said that they still don’t have answers to their questions about his death, two months later, and want the City of Bothell to “recognize that Rene’s death was a tragedy.”
Hummel Jr., 25, died July 29 after the fatal shooting near 228th Street Southeast and 20th Avenue Southeast. Officers responded to the area following reports of a man slashing tires with a knife, and when the first officer arrived, Hummel advanced toward him with a knife, according to the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team (SMART), the outside agency investigating the incident. The officer shot Hummel several times.
Hummel was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was pronounced dead. He died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office, which classified his death as a homicide.
Officers found a knife at the scene, according to SMART. Braden Pence, a lawyer working with the Hummels, said Hummel often traveled with a pocket knife, though neither he nor the family have heard of any witnesses who corroborate that he was slashing tires.
The Bothell police officer was placed on administrative leave. The City of Bothell and police department declined to comment Wednesday, citing the SMART investigation. Julie Moore, a spokeswoman for SMART, said detectives have been in contact with the family lawyer, per their request, and aware awaiting test results from a state lab.
Hummel graduated from Secondary Academy of Success, an alternative high school in Bothell, in 2014. Three of his sisters described their brother as a mediator when they fought, who taught them how to embrace their weirdness and always said “I love you” first.
“The hardest thing was having to see my parents go through the pain of losing their oldest son,” Esmerelda Hummel said. “…he made me feel important and capable of accomplishing anything.”
He had struggled with mental illness, his family said, but had been in treatment and was taking medication.
“That can’t be an acceptable reason why someone is shot,” Pence said. “Right now the questions in my mind are directed toward the police, why they would respond to somebody, anybody, in crisis where they would need extra help, why they would get responded to with violence.”
The shooting occurred two weeks after Bothell police Officer Jonathan Shoop was fatally shot in the head during a gunfight following a traffic stop about 2.5 miles away from where Hummel was shot. Shoop was caught in the crossfire between Henry Eugene Washington and officer Mustafa Kumcur, who fired the round that killed Shoop. Washington has pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated first-degree murder in Shoop’s death.