Pierce County sheriff's deputy Kent Mundell Jr. died Monday a short time after he was removed from life support at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Pierce County sheriff’s Deputy Kent Mundell Jr. died Monday shortly after he was removed from life support at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Deputy Mundell’s wife was at his side when he was pronounced dead at 5:04 p.m., according to Sgt. Ed Troyer, spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. He said the deputy was taken off life support after his physicians told his family that he would not recover.
“Obviously, everybody was waiting for a miracle,” a tearful Troyer said outside the hospital. “It didn’t turn out the way we hoped.”
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Deputy Mundell, 44, was one of two deputies shot while responding to a domestic-violence call Dec. 21 outside Eatonville, Pierce County. A 10-year veteran of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Mundell, of the Spanaway area, leaves behind his wife, Lisa, and two children, 16 and 10.
“All of us suffered a tremendous loss because of who this man was,” Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said. “None of us is doing well. This is somebody we knew, someone we worked with, someone we have taken risks with, someone who has backed us up.”
Troyer said a memorial service for Deputy Mundell is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 5 at the Tacoma Dome.
Deputy Mundell was shot multiple times after he and his partner, Sgt. Nick Hausner, 43, responded to a call to remove an “unwanted guest” from a house near Tanwax Lake, about 7 miles north of Eatonville and about 18 miles south of Puyallup.
Jason Crable had wanted his brother, David E. Crable, who was drunk, removed from the home.
When the deputies arrived, Jason Crable invited them in. They talked with David Crable, who seemed cooperative, and he agreed to leave the home with the deputies, according to sheriff’s officials.
But before they left, David Crable suddenly pulled a gun concealed under his arm and started shooting.
Deputy Mundell returned fire and killed David Crable, but not before the deputy himself was critically injured, the sheriff’s officials said. Deputy Mundell was flown to Harborview Medical Center. Law-enforcement personnel from numerous departments have been standing vigil all week at Harborview, a show of support for Deputy Mundell and his family.
Hausner was shot as well and sent to Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis. He was released from the hospital Thursday morning and spent a portion of that day visiting Deputy Mundell.
Troyer said Monday that Hausner was “despondent” at the news of his partner’s death.
Deputy Mundell is the sixth law-enforcement officer to be killed in the Puget Sound area in the past eight weeks.
Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton was fatally shot Oct. 31 while sitting in his patrol car with his partner, who was injured. A Tukwila man, Christopher Monfort, has been charged in the shootings.
Four Lakewood police officers — Mark Renninger, Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Gregory Richards — were fatally shot on the morning of Nov. 29 at a Parkland coffee shop. The gunman, Maurice Clemmons, was killed a few days later by a Seattle police officer after a manhunt.
Deputy Mundell loved the active life, according to his friends and family.
“He wasn’t a guy who was going to sit at a desk. He was wired as a thrill-seeker,” his stepbrother Mark Stafford said last week.
Police work was not Deputy Mundell’s first career.
He gave up a job in manufacturing when he was in his mid-30s to become a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy, his stepbrother said.
“He wanted to get the bad guy,” said Stafford, 38, who referred to Deputy Mundell as “my brother.”
Stafford, who works for Tacoma Public Works, said he learned the morning after the shootings that Deputy Mundell was fighting for his life at Harborview. Stafford said he first got to know Deputy Mundell, who was about six years older, when he was growing up in the South Hill area of Puyallup.
They were friends then, years before Stafford’s father, Patrick, and Deputy Mundell’s mother, Patricia, married in the mid-1980s.
After the marriage, Stafford said, he and his new stepbrother became close when they were young adults.
For the past 10 years, they had traveled every August to lakes in Eastern Washington or Idaho with other family members for camping trips, where they would go boating and wakeboarding.
Deputy Mundell lived for those adventures, Stafford said.
He became a licensed pilot and bought a plane after renting one. He also was a sky diver, Stafford said.
“His motto was: ‘If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.’ That’s how he lived his life,” Stafford said.
Deputy Mundell, who married his high-school sweetheart more than 20 years ago, also doted on his daughter, 16, and son, 10, Stafford said last week.
“I never imagined that grief could be so deep,” Deputy Mundell’s mother, Patricia Stafford, said Monday night. “But in the midst of the grief, there is something more. I am so honored to be Kent’s mother. He was not only my son, he was my joy.”
Deputy Mundell’s stepmother, Dorene Mundell, of Belton, Texas, described her stepson as “one of the best fathers I have ever seen in my life.”
Deputy Mundell also was close with his larger family. Dorene Mundell said when she and Kent Mundell Sr. married six years ago, they brought together their families, with their own grown children and grandchildren.
“He seemed so happy for all of us to be welcomed into his side of the family,” she said last week. “My daughters loved him. My only grandson calls him Uncle Kent, and I’m about to cry talking about it.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire issued a statement, calling Deputy Mundell a “fallen hero.”
“Though his life was cut far too short by this act of violence, his memory will live on in the many people he protected and served,” the statement read.
Gregoire has called on law-enforcement groups to meet this week to compile a list of potential changes to state law, policy or the state constitution to address the recent slayings of law-enforcement officers. She also hopes to meet with them Jan. 8.
Pierce County sheriff’s Deputy Tony Messineo was on duty when reached Monday night. “I’m terribly sad,” he said. “The community lost a good deputy, and I lost a good friend.”
Outside of the hospital Monday, Pastor, the Pierce County sheriff, spoke emotionally about the loss of Deputy Mundell in one breath and, in the next, praised the everyday heroism of the deputies in his department.
Even as Deputy Mundell died, Pastor said, other deputies were preparing for their next shift.
“People will be putting on uniforms and putting on badges,” he said. “They will be taking the same risks. Thank God, there are people willing to do that.”
Information from Seattle Times archives and The Associated Press is included in this report.