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Originally published December 21, 2009 at 10:31 PM | Page modified December 22, 2009 at 10:50 AM

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2 officers shot in Pierce County; suspect killed

Two Pierce County sheriff's deputies were seriously wounded late Monday after they were "ambushed" while responding to a domestic-violence call, according to the Sheriff's Department. The shooting suspect was shot and killed in the Monday night shootout, sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said.

EATONVILLE, Pierce County — Two Pierce County sheriff's deputies were seriously wounded late Monday after they were "ambushed" while responding to a domestic-violence call, according to the Sheriff's Department.

The shooting suspect, identified as 35-year-old David E. Crable, was shot and killed in the Monday night shootout near Eatonville, sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said.

A deputy, shot multiple times, was in critical condition early Tuesday morning after being flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He was undergoing surgery, Troyer said.

A sergeant, a longtime veteran, was shot once and was in stable condition at Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis. He has spoken with investigators, according to a law-enforcement source.

The Sheriff's Department did not immediately identify either deputy, but both are reportedly married and have children.

The sheriff's deputies were responding to a report of an "unwanted guest" at a home near Tanwax Lake, 7 miles north of Eatonville and about 18 miles south of Puyallup. The call apparently was placed by Crable's brother. When deputies arrived at the house, Crable's brother invited them into the home.

But Crable, armed with a handgun and a rifle, opened fire at 9:07 p.m. from upstairs in the house, Troyer said. Both deputies, who were wearing bullet proof vests, returned fire.

"The brother who was upstairs came down opening fire," Troyer said. "One brother basically ambushed our deputies."

A 16-year-old girl, identified as Crable's daughter, also was in the house.

After gunfire erupted, the girl and Crable's brother dragged one of the wounded deputies into an adjoining room, barred the door, began first aid and called 911, said Troyer.

"They went out of their way to help him," Troyer said.

Neighbors also gave aid to the wounded deputies.

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Neither the daughter nor brother were injured, and both are cooperating with investigators.

The domestic-violence call involved the girl, but details were sketchy Tuesday morning, Troyer said. He said there was a no-contact in place order barring Crable from his daughter.

It wasn't immediately known if the girl was staying with her uncle.

Sheriff's deputies had been at the Tanwax Lake home at least once before.

"We have no idea why he lashed out at us ... " Troyer said. "There's not going to be an answer that satisfies anybody."

Crable had a contentious relationship with his family, resulting in multiple domestic-violence restraining orders against him, according to Pierce County Superior Court documents. Troyer described Crable as having a "long history of terrorizing his family."

In those documents, Crable is described as suicidal in the spring of 2007 and violent with his mother and daughter. Crable pleaded guilty to a weapons charge in Pierce County Superior Court in June 2009. Troyer said investigators would be at the scene throughout the night. The shooting site, down a side road off Highway 161, was sealed off from media and other traffic.

The shooting comes less than a month after the deadliest attack on law-enforcement in the state's history, when four police officers from Lakewood, Pierce County, were shot to death on Nov. 29 in Parkland. The shooter, Maurice Clemmons, was shot and killed by a Seattle police officer two days later.

A Seattle police officer, Timothy Brenton, also was fatally shot and his partner wounded on Oct. 31 in Seattle's Leschi neighborhood. A Tukwila man, Christopher Monfort, has been charged in the shootings.

"It doesn't seem real," Troyer, who acted as a spokesman after the Lakewood shootings, said of Monday night's shootings.

He noted that some of the sheriff's deputies who investigated the Lakewood officers' shootings were also working on last night's shootings.

"It's really shocking," Troyer said. "Everyone is pretty quiet and somber, realizing the gravity of what's happened."

At around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor walked out of Harborview and said the wounded deputy was "alive and that's a blessing." He did not want to get into specifics about the deputy's condition because not all family members had been notified of the shootings.

King County Sheriff Sue Rahr arrived at Harborview around 11:15 p.m. Monday, shortly after the helicopter with the wounded deputy landed. A large presence of officers and deputies from the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, Seattle Police Department, King County Sheriff's Office, the State Patrol and Lakewood Police Department converged on the hospital.

About the wounded deputy, Troyer said, "It will take some time until we know how he will come out of this."

Sylvia Rowan, who lives at Tanwax Lake, near the scene of the shootings, said she saw a police car arrive at the house after a fight between two male residents of the house and possibly a female resident.

Rowan said alcohol-involved fights were frequent at the house, which is about 200 feet from her home. She said a couple had lived there for about two years.

She said she had not left her house after being told by officers to stay inside and not admit visitors.

"It's swarming with officers," Rowan said.

Tanwax Lake, set into the heavily wooded foothills of Mount Rainier, has a small resort and RV park that attracts fishermen.

Seattle Times staff reporters Jonathan Martin, Jennifer Sullivan, Hal Bernton, Nick Perry, Steve Miletich and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

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