Suspect in shooting thought parks co-workers were against her
King County Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Carolyn “Zoom” Piksa, a 46-year-old Seattle Parks and Recreation Department employee, with first-degree assault for shooting a male co-worker in the chest on Friday and with second-degree assault for threatening to shoot a female co-worker.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Carolyn “Zoom” Piksa apparently believed two of her co-workers were involved in “a game of manipulation” against her and had deleted contacts from her cellphone, taken money from her bank account and caused noises at night that made it impossible for the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department employee to sleep, according to charges filed Wednesday.
On Friday, she confronted her co-workers to “find out how to get out of the game,” shooting one and threatening the other with a handgun, charging papers say.
Piksa was charged by King County prosecutors with first-degree assault for shooting Bill Keller, 65, in the chest with a .357-caliber revolver and with second-degree assault for brandishing her weapon and threatening to shoot co-worker Cynthia Etelamaki, 45, charging papers say.
In an interview with detectives at Harborview Medical Center, Keller said he pleaded with Piksa, telling her, “Don’t shoot me! Don’t shoot me in the head!” the papers say.
Piksa, 46, is to be arraigned March 27. She is being held in the King County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
Piksa’s nephew, Cody Shearer, last week told The Seattle Times his aunt is a wonderful woman who had the love and support of her family. But he also described her as “fragile” and said that after a burglary at her Burien home last summer, she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and took six months off work.
Both of Piksa’s alleged victims told police that before Friday neither had any personal conflicts with Piksa.
Just before 2 p.m. Friday, Piksa retrieved the revolver from her truck and went to Keller’s office at a parks-maintenance building at North 82nd Street and Densmore Avenue North and demanded to see him, charging papers say. Once inside his office, Piksa pulled out a gun and pointed it at Keller’s head.
She then lowered the handgun, opened and closed the cylinder as if checking her ammunition, “then abruptly raised the weapon” and shot Keller in the chest, the papers say.
Piksa left Keller’s office, retrieved her lunch from a refrigerator near her work area and left the building to drive to the Bitter Lake Community Center, according to the charges.
Keller, executive director of the Associated Recreation Council (ARC) which oversees the programs at the city’s community centers, called 911:
“Keller was in medical distress, could barely speak and was initially unable to provide his location or the nature of the emergency,” charging papers say. “Keller eventually gasped that he had been shot inside the building.”
At 2:11 p.m., Seattle police received a 911 call from the Bitter Lake Community Center from an employee who reported that a woman had entered the center armed with a gun, charging papers say.
Staff identified Piksa as the armed woman but she had already left by the time officers arrived, the papers say. Etelamaki, the community-center coordinator, told police she was inside the center when Piksa entered and asked to speak to her.
Once in Etelamaki’s office, Piksa asked her if she had talked to Keller and she replied that she hadn’t, the papers say.
When Piksa pulled out a handgun, Etelamaki was able to run out of the office and yell to other employees to evacuate the building, charging papers say. She then left the center and called 911, the papers say.
Piksa grabbed Etelamaki’s purse and left, according to the charges.
Police used Piksa’s cellphone signal to trace her to her home in Burien, where she was arrested around 5 p.m. Friday. Etelamaki’s purse was found inside the home, the charging papers say.
Keller is still being treated at Harborview, where he was in satisfactory condition on Wednesday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Piksa — who earned the nickname “Zoom” for her skill as a softball pitcher — has been a Seattle Parks Department employee since 1986.
She is an assistant coordinator for community centers and worked at several around the city, including Miller Community Center and Montlake Community Center, according to city records.
According to relatives, Piksa has had a troubled past and was the victim of a break-in last summer in which her dog was killed.
The King County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the burglary, but said they had no reports that a pet had been shot by intruders. Two handguns, a rifle, magazines and ammunition were stolen during the burglary, which occurred while Piksa was at work.
No arrests were made and the weapons were not recovered, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West.
Piksa was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in Marion County, Ore., in November and a warrant was issued for her arrest after she failed to appear for a court date in December, court records show.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org