Yakima church locked down during service due to nearby shooting, standoff

YAKIMA, Wash. — A Yakima church went into lockdown during an evening service on Saturday when a nearby domestic violence suspect allegedly engaged police in a standoff that led to gunfire.

“There was a church in full session right there on the corner at the time,” Yakima Police Capt. Jay Seely said. “Thankfully, our lieutenant ran into the church and had them shut the door and get on the ground and stay inside the building.”

Seely said police were looking to arrest a 27-year-old man wanted for failing to appear in court on a domestic violence-related assault charge. He said officers found him about 5:30 p.m., walking down the street in the 800 block of North 20th Avenue.

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“There’s a residence back in there that’s known to law enforcement that some of the people hang out at, Seely said. “The officer knew that and he went by and checked and he actually found the suspect’s car at first and then the suspect led them on a foot chase from the car.”

Seely said officers approached the situation with particular caution after they were made aware the man was potentially carrying a stolen pistol and in January, had allegedly threatened to have a “shoot-out” with law enforcement.

“I would say anytime you’re dealing with a domestic violence situation, those have a propensity for violence against the officer,” Seely said. “Those are very dangerous situations.”

Seely said the  suspect ran from officers before coming to a standoff in a yard near North 18th and Jerome Avenues, near the Yakima County Juvenile Justice Center.

“During the foot chase, the officers indicated that he was grabbing for his waistband and then subsequently, he pulled out a pistol from his waistband and he pointed at his own head for a while and then he pointed back at the officers,” Seely said.

Seely said the suspect then pointed his gun at three nearby officers and that’s when two of them — a YPD officer and a YPD sergeant — fired their weapons.

“We do know that our officers fired their rifles, but we don’t know exactly all of his behavior,” Seely said. “We do know that we did recover a loaded pistol from him.”

After shots were fired, Seely said the officers rendered first aid, putting a tourniquet on the suspect and packing his wounds with gauze while they waited for emergency medical personnel to arrive.

Seely said the man was taken by ambulance to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, then transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for further care.

Authorities did not disclose the man’s condition Monday, but did say that his injuries were non-life-threatening. No officers were injured in the incident.

Seely said per standard procedure, the officer and sergeant involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave for the duration of YPD’s internal investigation and the external investigation by the Yakima Valley Special Investigations Unit.

The YVSIU is made up of law enforcement officers from different agencies across Yakima County who are responsible for investigation local use of force incidents. This is YPD’s second officer-involved shooting this year.

“The first one was in January. at Fifth Avenue and MLK,” Seely said. “The subject stole the car and then led officers on the chase and then leveled the shotgun at our officers.”

Seely said officer-involved shootings are cyclic; sometimes the department with go years without a shooting, but some years officers’ have seen up to six.

“They’re very random and unpredictable, but I think the more you see guns in the hand of prohibited persons like this subject — and they’re willing to engage law enforcement — I think you’re going to see these increase unfortunately,” Seely said.

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