5 dead in Washington state; gunman told police he shot his family

BELFAIR, Wash. -- A gunman who killed four people in rural Washington state called an officer he previously encountered to say he shot his family, leading to an hourslong standoff at a home Friday that ended with his suicide, authorities said.

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A 12-year-old girl related to the victims survived and was taken to the hospital for an evaluation, Mason County sheriff's Chief Deputy Ryan Spurling said. Her condition was not immediately known.

"Apparently she's OK," Spurling said. "I don't know if this is a daughter, or step-daughter, or what the relationship is, but she escaped from the house."

The officer who took the shooter's call went to the home across Puget Sound from Seattle with another deputy. Authorities negotiated with the man for about three hours before a SWAT team entered the house in a heavily wooded area and found the bodies.

The gunman "apparently came outside the home and shot himself," Sheriff Casey Salisbury said. "It's a terrible tragedy."

Neither the gunman nor his four victims have been identified. Authorities did not detail the previous interaction between the shooter and the officer he called.

Jack Pigott, who lives down the road, said he heard gunshots Thursday night but none Friday.

The couple who lived in the house about 25 miles southwest of Seattle had been married for four or five years, Pigott said. The wife had two teenage sons who were adopted from Russia during a previous marriage. She also had a daughter who was adopted from China.

Pigott said the husband had a heating and air conditioning contractor business. He had recently been hospitalized, Pigott said, but he didn't know why. When he returned home, he was on a lot of medications, Pigott said of the man.

It was common for the family to do shooting practice, Pigott said, and that's what he thought of when he heard the gunfire.

"I was getting a load of wood into the house, and I hear some gunshots," he said. "Four or five, a pause and then another round."

Pigott said residents know each other in the area that has homes with large lots with room for horses.

"It's actually really scary because when you live out like this, you want to feel like your neighbours are someone you can rely on, not somebody you have to be afraid of because we are out in a secluded area," said another neighbour, Lynn Johnson.

The SWAT team went in around 12:30 p.m., Spurling said. Officers said they had 11 buildings to clear on the property but reported they had found the bodies shortly after entering the first building.

The shooting comes days after a 26-year-old man shot and killed his parents and two younger sisters before taking his own life at the family's home in Phoenix.

Associated Press reporters Donna Blankinship and Martha Bellisle in Seattle and photographer Ted Warren in Belfair contributed to this story



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