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Thursday, June 29, 2006 - Page updated at 08:38 AM

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State trooper wounded in shootout, motorist killed

By The Associated Press

SPANAWAY – A Washington State Patrol trooper was wounded in a shootout with a motorist she was trying to arrest for drunken driving, and the driver was shot to death a few miles away by Pierce County sheriff's deputies.

The trooper underwent surgery for non-life-threatening arm and leg injuries early today at Madigan Army Medical Center, said state Trooper Mark H. Lewis.

The 24-year-old Tacoma man who was shot to death was clearly the motorist who, moments earlier, had fired 12 rounds at the trooper from a 9 mm Ruger semiautomatic handgun from 5 to 10 yards away, based on the trooper's description, documents, witness accounts and other evidence, sheriff's Detective Ed Troyer said.

She was lucky to be alive, Troyer said.

The man never got off a shot at the deputies, who opened fire when he ignored warnings and drew a handgun, Troyer said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy was pending.

Both deputies were placed on paid leave, a standard procedure in shootings by law enforcement officers.

Troyer and Lewis told The Associated Press the trooper, 47, a five-year veteran of the patrol, stopped a 2000 Lincoln Town Car by a Union 76 station on Washington 7 just south of an intersection known as the Roy "Y" outside Spanaway, about 10 miles south of Tacoma.

Following a field sobriety test, the trooper told the motorist to put his hands behind his back, but before she could put him in handcuffs "he fought his way free, ran to his car, got a gun and started shooting," Troyer said.

Crouching behind her patrol car, which was hit by five to seven slugs, the trooper fired her .40-caliber Heckler & Koch USP semiautomatic service weapon as the man fled, flattening one of his tires and hitting his car numerous times.

"She may have hit him, too," Troyer said. "We won't know that until after the autopsy."

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The trooper radioed twice for aid, first to request assistance in the arrest and then after the shooting, and she remained conscious as a woman and her son who had stopped for gasoline helped bandage her wounds and when an ambulance arrived, Lewis said.

Less than 15 minutes later, deputies saw a man matching her description walking in the driveway of Bethel Baptist Church by the Bethel School District headquarters in Spanaway, Troyer said.

Despite warnings from the deputies he "behaved aggressively," pulled a gun from his pants and was shot dead on the spot, the detective said.

His disabled car was found two blocks away, and deputies were interviewing a man who was found nearby, apparently after getting a call for a ride from the motorist after the shooting, Troyer said.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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