Ritzville, WA – A suicidal man traveling through Ritzville was fatally shot by police after he jumped out of his vehicle and charged at them while swinging a machete (video below).
The chain of events leading up to the fatal altercation began on April 10, when 48-year-old Shawn Lee was traveling through the area with his unnamed family member, the Columbia Basin Investigative Team (CBIT) said in an incident report.
Lee’s vehicle ended up breaking down, so he got a tow back to the Love’s Travel Stop on State Road 261.
Early the following morning, the Ritzville Police Department (RPD) received the first of three phone calls regarding Lee.
Two of the calls were placed by Lee himself, police said.
Lee told police that he was being bugged and that someone was tracking him, according to the CBIT.
Meanwhile, family members from outside the area called the RPD to report that Lee was in possession of a sword and that he was suicidal.
Officers responded to the Love’s Travel Stop and spoke with Lee, who denied the allegations his out-of-area family members had made.
The male family member he was with assured officers that everything was fine, so the RPD left the area.
But at approximately 11:30 p.m., the family member Lee was with went into the truck stop and asked employees to send help, The Spokesman-Review reported.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Nate Romaneshi and RPD Officer Jeff Lane responded to the parking lot, where they were met by Lee’s relative.
The man told police that his dad “hasn’t been in his right mind all day long,” dashcam footage showed.
As he spoke with the officers further, the driver’s door of a nearby pickup suddenly flew open.
“Stay in there!” the officers warned, as Lee stepped out of the vehicle and started swinging a sword at them.
His family member immediately turned and walked towards the blade-wielding suspect, ordering him to back away, the video showed.
“You are not doing this!” he yelled at Lee, placing himself between the suspect and the officers. “Drop it in the bed of the truck right now!”
The officers repeatedly ordered Lee to drop the blade and yelled at his relative to move out of the way, the video showed.
Officer Lane circled around behind Lee’s family member and deployed his Taser at Lee, but it had no effect.
The suspect then turned his attention towards the officers and charged at them with the blade raised over his head, dashcam footage showed.
“Lee continued to close the distance on the officers swinging the machete when Lane fired from his department-issued firearm at a range of approximately 10 feet,” CBIT said. “The bullets struck Lee and caused him to drop the machete.”
Lee fell onto the grass on his back as both officers attempted life-saving first aid.
The suspect was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The CBIT’s investigation into the officer-involved shooting is ongoing.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: