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WSP: Walmart shooting an ‘unbelievably tragic situation'
Investigators probing the Jan. 23 shooting spree at the Port Orchard Walmart store are “completely convinced” 31-year-old Anthony A. Martinez fired not only the shot that killed himself but also the two shots that killed 13-year-old runaway Astrid Valdivia, with whom he had fled five days earlier from Utah.
“When you add it all up, there’s no other conclusion anyone could draw,” said Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins. “No other explanation fits the evidence.”
Calkins said the ballistic investigation was complicated by the fact both Martinez and Deputy Krista McDonald, with whom he exchanged gunfire, were armed with identical 40-caliber Glock semi-automatic pistols using hollow-point ammunition.
“They were using different brands of bullets, and there was a slight difference in the weight, but that’s about it,” he said.
In addition to the forensic evidence, Calkins said, a very grainy surveillance tape from the Walmart parking lot appears to show Valdivia running towards Martinez.
“He had been shot in the leg by Deputy McDonald,” Calkins said, “so he was on the ground. You can see his arm raise, then she goes down.”
Valdivia was struck in the upper torso by a total of two bullets.
“From the angle of entry and exit wounds, it’s clear the bullet traveled through her body in an upward trajectory,” Calkins said. “That’s consistent with having come from his gun if he was laying down.”
Valdivia’s body also had gunpowder residue, and since McDonald was shooting from 60 feet away, the powder couldn’t have come from her weapon.
“Martinez fired a total of 12 shots,” Calkins said. “He wounded two deputies, hit Astrid with two more, then fired the last shot into his chest and killed himself. That’s our conclusion.”
Calkins said there was no indication why Martinez would kill Valdivia.
“To the extent anyone understands a murder-suicide, we don’t even know if they had a pact,” he said. “It’s just an unbelievably tragic situation. That’s really all you can say.”
WSP conducted the investigation because it involved a shooting by a Kitsap County deputy.
The agency had planned to wait a week or more before releasing the results, but when Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge leaked details involving the manner of death to a Utah newspaper on Thursday, the WSP announced it would answer questions immediately.
“I was advised about 20 minutes ago that the WSP would engage in a little damage control,” said Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office said on Friday. “Obviously, this isn’t how we’d planned for this to go.”
“After consulting with all the offices involved,” Calkins said, “it was decided that the Kitsap Prosecutor’s Office would take the lead and hold a press conference in a week or two so that everyone would be informed.”
Hauge, however, jumped the gun on Thursday and informed a reporter from the Salt Lake Tribune it was Martinez, not McDonald, who killed Valdivia.
According to the report, the first two deputies responded around 3:30 p.m. on Jan., 23 to what Calkins termed a “report of inappropriate behavior” between Martinez and Valdivia, a runaway with whom he had fled Utah five days earlier.
“We knew Martinez had made contact with someone in this community,” Calkins said, “and that’s who made the call.”
Calkins said Martinez tried to pass off Valdivia as his daughter, but “from their body language and other factors, it was clear this wasn’t a father-daughter deal,” he said. “The person who called in the complaint said there’s something not quite right about this and told the 911 dispatcher they were at the Walmart.”
When the deputies John Stacy and Andrew Ejde, arrived at the store, they quickly located Martinez at the smoking hut on the southeast side of the building and began to question him.
“They asked him enough questions to have him give them a phony name,” Calkins said. “They decided his story didn’t add up, so they began to walk him towards his vehicle.”
At that point, Martinez broke free and began shooting as he ran toward a nearby wooded area.
Stacy and Ejde, were wounded before they could return fire.
At the same time, McDonald, arrived in her vehicle from the rear of the store and, seeing the shooting, returned fire.
Calkins said there is some indication the two deputies knew when they arrived that Martinez might be armed, but that isn’t clear.
“At this point, all I can say is our investigation has concluded neither of the two deceased were killed by Deputy McDonald,” Calkins said. “We will be turning our report over to the Prosecutor’s Office and it will make a determination as to whether she acted appropriately.”