For hours, even while the officer was in surgery at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the shooter remained barricaded inside a Mount Vernon home and continued to fire shots.
A 30-year veteran of the Mount Vernon Police Department who was shot in the head Thursday evening remains in “very critical” condition Friday, while a “primary suspect” and two others were arrested after a lengthy standoff, authorities said.
The suspect in the shooting is Ernesto Lee Rivas, Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich said on Friday. He was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail in a court hearing Friday morning. Rivas had avoided a three-strike life sentence in a 1998 plea deal on kidnapping charges.
The officer, 61, was shot about 5:30 p.m. Thursday as he responded to a report of a man’s shooting at a home near East Fir Street and North LaVenture Road, authorities said.
For hours afterward, while the officer was in surgery at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the shooter remained barricaded inside the home and continued to fire shots.
Gunshots could be heard as television reporters broadcast live from the scene for their late news programs.
“This person is still shooting at officers; last I know he was shooting at a SWAT vehicle,” State Patrol Sgt. Keith Leary said during a briefing televised on KING 5. “Please pray for the officer who is in the hospital.”
Leary said the officer has been with the Mount Vernon department for more than three decades. His name was not released.
The officer remained in intensive care Friday morning, Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg said. The officer arrived by airlift about 9:38 p.m. Thursday and underwent surgery about an hour later, she said.
A tweet from a State Patrol trooper indicated early Friday that the injured officer’s condition may have improved. But Gregg said he has remained in “very critical” condition since arriving at the hospital.
Gregg said the officer’s family was at the hospital.
“They are obviously pretty devastated,” she said. “We are doing everything humanly possible to care for that officer. … He’s very sick, he’s very critical.”
The shooting comes a little more than two weeks after a Tacoma police officer was fatally shot while responding to a domestic-violence call. Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez, 45, was shot Nov. 30. The gunman was killed the next day, after an 11-hour standoff.
State Patrol Sgt. Mark Francis tweeted an update on the Mount Vernon suspect being taken into custody about 12:45 a.m. Friday. The suspect is 44 and from Mount Vernon.
Authorities said throughout the evening that at least one hostage was being held, and according to the State Patrol, negotiators spent hours communicating with the suspect. But after 1:30 a.m., Leary told reporters during another briefing that there had been no hostages. Instead, two other people in the home were arrested.
Leary said the suspect may have been using social media and may be live-streaming.
“If he is streaming this on Facebook, the best thing for him to do is give himself up and end this situation,” Leary said while the situation was active. “It’s not going to get any better.”
Three people came out of the house once police used tear gas, but it was unclear whether two of them were hostages or persons of interest. No shots were fired by officers.
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No information was released on possible charges for any of those arrested.
State Patrol spokesmen said they didn’t know what led to the officer being fired upon.
The alleged shooter has a lengthy, violent criminal history, according to the State Patrol. “He is a violent offender,” Leary told reporters.
The scene of the standoff is near Skagit Valley College. Officers evacuated neighbors, and the college went on lock down and urged students to remain in their dorms. The school tweeted, “everyone get inside and stay inside.”
It was not known how many people or firearms were inside the home.
In the shooting that prompted the initial police response, a person was grazed by a bullet and taken in a private car to Skagit Valley Hospital, according to the State Patrol.
Neighbor Mike Ullom, who lives a few houses away from the shooting and standoff, said he heard gunfire all night.
“There must have been 50 rounds,” he said. “At one point, he (the shooter) was shooting at the helicopter overhead. And the cops were shooting all the lights out on the power poles. I saw the SWAT team move in in front of us. There were cops everywhere.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.