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Suspect killed, 4 police officers hurt in shootout, explosion
A suspect was killed and four Kent Police officers were injured in a Sunday afternoon shootout and explosion, authorities said.
The victim, who has not been identified, aimed a gun and opened fire at officers after he was found in a business area of Kent, police said.
Police returned fire and killed the man at the scene. But in the exchange of gunfire, a bullet struck a large propane tank behind Signature Landscaping Services, Inc., 22915 86th Ave S., igniting a large explosion, officials said.
Investigators have yet to determine if the tank was hit by one of the officer's bullets, or if the suspect shot it.
The shooting happened just before 1 p.m. near South 228th Street and 86th Avenue South.
Five officers were involved in the shooting, and four officers received superficial burns, mainly singed hair, from the explosion, according to Det. Melanie Frazier, Kent Police public information officer. No officers were shot, Frazier said.
All four officers were treated by Kent Fire for burns, as well as chemical exposure.
The officers were transported to Valley Medical Center for further treatment and evaluation. All of the officers were in stable condition as of early Sunday evening.
“We are extremely fortunate that none of our officers were critically injured by gunfire or the explosion” Frazier said.
No civilians were hurt in the confrontation, Frazier said.
“It was a freak accident, as far as the propane tank going up,” Frazier said. “It was something out of a movie. It was huge, apparently. It happened so fast. … In the shot exchange, one of the bullets (hit the tank) and another one is probably what set the explosion and fire.”
Kent Fire responded, as did the Department of Ecology, Frazier added. Due to concerns related to the chemical exposure with the propane explosion, local businesses were evacuated until the area was deemed safe.
The episode began around 10:45 a.m. when a police patrol was called to a report of a man having a firearm at the Howard Johnson Inn on North Central Avenue. But when contacted in the motel's parking lot, the man hit one of the officers, brandished a firearm and fled on foot.
Officers lost sight of the subject as he ran between local businesses. Patrol units quickly set up a perimeter in an attempt to contain the subject in the area. Businesses within the perimeter were temporarily placed on lockdown for safety purposes, police said.
After a 1½-hour search, officers spotted the man running between Carpinito Brothers off Central Avenue and other businesses. They encountered the subject behind the Signature Landscaping business.
As is customary in these cases, involved police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave.
The Valley Investigation Team is working the scene.