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Originally published March 21, 2010 at 3:22 PM | Page modified March 21, 2010 at 6:23 PM

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Federal Way officer dies at shooting scene; natural causes suspected

A Federal Way police officer died Sunday morning while guarding a scene where hours earlier police had shot and wounded a suspect driving a stolen car.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Federal Way police officer died Sunday morning while guarding a scene where hours earlier police had shot and wounded a suspect driving a stolen car.

The cause of death is unknown, but it appears to have been from natural causes, a Federal Way police spokeswoman said. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

The identity of the 35-year-old officer was not released.

"There's no suspicion of foul play," said Cathy Schrock, a Federal Way police spokeswoman. "We need to wait for the autopsy."

According to police, the incident started about 1 a.m. when officers were sent to investigate a suspicious vehicle in the 33300 block of 26th Avenue Southwest in Federal Way. Two people were sleeping in the back of an SUV, which police determined had been reported as stolen.

As officers approached, the driver started the engine and began to leave. As the vehicle drove away, it rammed three Federal Way police cars, prompting two officers to fire at the driver and the vehicle, police said. The officers were not injured.

The vehicle was later found nearby, and the suspected driver was discovered hiding in a carport. He was taken into custody without incident. The suspect, who is 17, had been shot in the arm and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, police said. He has an extensive criminal history, according to police.

The other person who had been in the car earlier was not found.

Because the case involved Federal Way officers firing their weapons, it's being investigated by another agency, the Renton Police Department.

While the investigation was under way Sunday morning, Federal Way police secured the scene. About 7 a.m. the 35-year-old officer was found collapsed in his patrol car, Schrock said. Officers attempted CPR but were unable to revive him.

The officer was a four-year veteran with the Federal Way Police Department and a member of the Air National Guard. He is survived by his wife and two children, with a third child due in May.

The two officers involved in the shooting also weren't identified Sunday. One was described as an experienced officer with more than 12 years' experience. The other is a U.S. Army veteran who was hired in 2007 as an entry-level officer, Federal Way police said.

The two officers have been placed on routine paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

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