Kitsap Crime and Justice

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Archive for June, 2012

Fake shooting 911 call leads to scary situation for Kingston family

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

A Kingston family was the apparent victim of false reporting Saturday, according to Kitsap County Sheriff’s reports. 

Here’s what happened: Deputies got a hair-raising 911 call that came from out of the area. The caller, posing as a Kingston resident, claimed his father was “going crazy” and had shot his sister. The caller claimed he was hiding in a bathroom.

That kind of call is going to get police officers to respond in droves. And they did.

Police surrounded the home. A Suquamish police sergeant could see a man standing in the backyard; the man was told to show his hands and get on the ground. He complied. The man’s two sons were also located there and instructed to come around to the front of the house.

Police read the father his Miranda rights. He, of course, had no idea what had happened, and noted he didn’t even have a daughter.

Deputies checked the home and then un-cuffed the man.

It turns out that one of his sons had been playing games on the Internet. He’d played with someone online who’d been kicked off a gaming web site. The person decided to have the Kingston home “swatted” — that is, to try to get the SWAT team to converge on someone’s home.

Deputies’ investigation continues.

Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, said there were many risks and costs associated with making such a high priority response. There’s the responders driving to the scene as quickly as possible; there’s multiple agencies converging on a home — when their resources might be needed elsewhere.

The situation is also frightening to those involved. But Wilson said sheriff’s deputies are left with no choice but to respond “tactically” until they determine it’s a hoax.

“We were acting in good faith,” he said.

And should deputies confirm this was a case of false reporting, the person responsible could be punished by up to a year in jail, according to Washington law.


Taken hostage in Seabeck

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Blogger’s Note: Katie Scaff, the Kitsap Sun’s summer intern, got an inside look at how law enforcement trains for the most stressful of situations. Here’s her first hand account:

It’s not every day that you get taken hostage on the job, but when the opportunity arises I say, Take it.

This is my second summer interning for the Kitsap Sun, and today I was sent out to cover the State Patrol SWAT team training at Camp Wesley Harris off Seabeck Highway.

I got a brief rundown of what to expect after talking with Cpl. James Prouty last night. He said I would spend the day by his side, basically trying to stay out of the way while getting the information I needed.

When I arrived in the morning though, I was greeted by Washington State Patrol Lt. and SWAT Cmdr. Ron Mead, who offered me the chance to see the events unfold from inside.

“You want to be a hostage?” he asked.

There was no question about it.

After going through a security check to make sure I wasn’t bringing in any concealed weapons, I was escorted to a training building on the property.

Within one of the rooms sat four men playing cards around a table.

Before I could sit down and get settled, the man sitting at the end of the table answered his phone.

In a gruff English accent, he responded to a voice on the other end that he had four people “lying flat down.”

The conversation continued.

“Nobody’s hurt here, but see how hurt my family is now that I don’t have a job,” he said.

He hung up, put down the phone and grabbed his hand of cards.

It wasn’t the hostage scenario I imagined, but events escalated as time went on.

The captor, played by trooper Dave Bennett was supposed to be a disgruntled and recently fired information technology company employee, who, upset over the situation, took some of his former co-workers hostage.

The scenario began around 9 a.m., and Prouty and Sgt. Donovan Daly filtered in and out of the building, monitoring the work of the negotiators and Bennett’s role as the captor.

“I’m pretty much just making it up as I’m going along,” said Bennett.

Bennett’s enthusiasm for his role faded as the morning wore on though.

He accepted a phone from negotiators around 11 a.m., but demands for “diet fizzy pop” fizzled into conversations with the negotiator that were inaudible from my location.

He released one hostage in exchange for pizza for the group, but the situation wasn’t moving forward.

Prouty returned and warned us that the SWAT team would soon intervene.

“Things are going to get really chaotic,” Prouty said.

It was a training exercise, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t some risk involved.

The team was armed with pellet guns and Simunition, non-lethal training ammunition that resembles paintball pellets—so moments before they entered, Prouty outfitted us in earplugs, neck guards, and helmets.

They entered with a bang. First with the door. Then with two stun grenades—also known as flashbangs, which do exactly what the name implies.

“Hands up, hands up,” they called, pointing their guns at us.

A group took down Bennett and the hostage near him, while another group told the other hostage and me to get down to the ground.

“Hands at the small of your back,” they told us.

They zip tied our hands and escorted three of us to another room, leaving Bennett behind.

They checked us for weapons and brought us into another building to see how the events unfolded from our perspective.

The intervention happened so fast after hours of sitting and waiting, but how many people can say they’ve been held hostage?


Washington supreme court: Public defense has its limits

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Public defenders can only handle 150 felony cases a year under a new rule issued today by the Washington State Supreme Court. Such defense attorneys of those who cannot afford counsel will only be able to take on 300 misdemeanors per year as well, the court decided on an overall 6-3 vote.

The impetus for establishing the first-ever limits is to ensure criminal defendants receive an attentive lawyer not overburdened by other cases. That said, could the decision actually cause a spike in costs to the county and state governments?

Bill Houser says no, at least as far as Kitsap County is concerned.

Houser said Kitsap County’s Office of Public Defense has abided by a standard similar to the one just mandated by the court since the office’s inception. Attorneys have always been held to 150 felonies or less, he said, and if it’s a murder or “three strikes” case, their caseload must decrease even further.

Houser did say that some attorneys handling simple misdemeanors in the county do eclipse 300 at times.

Bear in mind, private attorneys can keep the caseloads they please, as their paychecks come from the clients they serve.

The standards will take effect in September 2013.


Bremerton sergeant recalls night trooper was killed at Mollet’s sentencing

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Blogger’s note: Those who follow the Kitsap Sun know that Megan G. Mollet, the 19-year-old convicted of rendering criminal assistance to the man who shot and killed Washington State Trooper Tony Radulescu, was sentenced to a year in jail Tuesday.

Several speakers made statements on behalf of prosecutors and Mollet at the sentencing hearing. Bremerton Police Sgt. Billy Renfro, one of the first officers on scene after Radulescu was killed, told Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Leila Mills this:

“As everyone knows, this nightmare started around 1:00 am on February 23rd, 2012.  For most of us working that night it began with Deputy Rob Corn stopping by a traffic stop to check on a fellow officer and friend, Trooper Tony Radulescu, who was not (answering status checks). This was followed a few seconds later by Deputy Corn advising “Officer down.” Chilling words to hear over the police radio.

What Deputy Corn saw and experienced at that scene is something that I simply cannot imagine.  The rest of us had a minute or two to mentally prepare ourselves for what we were getting ready to get involved in. In the world of first responders, a minute or two is a lifetime. My friend Rob did not have that luxury. No amount of training and experience can prepare an officer for this type of scene and I know that I was not prepared.

One of the first people I remember seeing after my arrival at the scene was (Kitsap County) Deputy Matt Hill walking back from where Tony lay alongside the road dead.  I’ve known Matt for over 20 years and the distraught look on Matt’s face as he told me, “They killed Tony. They shot him in the head” is something that I will never forget.

I clearly recall the look of shock on everyone’s face and the surreal feeling that this can’t be happening.  The gut-wrenching feeling as I rounded the front of Tony’s patrol car to see him lying on the shoulder of that highway is something I never want to feel again.

I remember Tony’s supervisor, Sergeant Tegard, choking back tears as he made phone calls from the scene, notifying others of the tragedy; I remember the look of disbelief on Trooper Germaine Walker’s face as we loaded Tony onto the stretcher; and I will never forget the image of Trooper Mitch Bauer standing in the back of a South Kitsap Medic Unit with his fellow trooper on a stretcher next to him, dead.

In trying to explain why she lied to police, Megan Mollet has said that Josh Blake was a different person after the shooting, “Not the Josh she knew. There was a change in his eyes.” I only know Josh Blake from what I’ve read about and heard from others, but it was no secret the kind of person he was.  He was a violent criminal through and through and a scourge to our society. Megan Mollet knew this of Josh Blake, considered him a friend, and a person she would drug and drink with on a regular basis.

I’ve heard and read that Megan Mollet and her supporters claim that she had no choice but to lie to officers after the murder of Trooper Tony Radulescu. I could not disagree more, and this is simply a copout on Megan Mollet’s part.

After the murder, Megan Mollet made numerous choices to lie to officers after Josh Blake was nowhere around, and she was safely seated in a patrol car. She actively hindered and delayed our investigation and our search for a cop killer, putting numerous officers’ lives at risk, and she did this because Josh Blake was her friend, not because she was afraid.

Since her arrest Megan Mollet continues with her poor choices and showing her loyalty to her friend Josh Blake, as is evident by the words etched into her jail cell wall, “White Power. RIP Josh Blake.” How infuriating.

Let there be no confusion for Megan Mollet, or her supporters.  There are numerous people related to the events that unfolded on February 23rd that did not have a choice, but Megan Mollet is not one of them; Trooper Tony Radulescu did not have a choice that night; Tony’s family and loved ones did not have a choice; and none of the troopers, deputies, or officers that responded to that scene, and then had to immediately engage in a manhunt, with no time to mourn the loss of one of our own, had a choice…Megan Mollet had a choice.

I’m sure Megan Mollet will ask the court for mercy, provide excuses for her actions, and maybe even express some remorse. I ask that the court keep in mind that Megan Mollet is an established self-serving liar.  It was from absolutely no assistance from Megan Mollet that the cowardly murderer Josh Blake was located. We did that on our own.

In closing, residents of Kitsap County, Kitsap County Law Enforcement, and the Washington State Patrol lost a respected member of our community and profession, and it is terribly painful. I respectfully ask that the court sentence Megan Mollet to the maximum allowable sentence.”

 


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