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Deputies kill armed suspect

Three Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies were placed on paid administrative leave Monday evening, pending an investigation into the shooting death of a heavily armed suspect.

No deputies were hurt in the confrontation, but John Buckendorf, 36, of Quilcene died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, chest, arms and legs, according to an autopsy report completed Tuesday.

Deputies shot and killed Buckendorf after a high-speed vehicle pursuit led state troopers, then county deputies, from Poulsbo to South Kitsap.

Buckendorf, who was reportedly driving a stolen red pickup truck during the pursuit, was dead when medics arrived at the scene on Lake Flora Road in South Kitsap Monday evening.

“The initial review shows this has been by the numbers,” said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer. “The level of professionalism reflects well on the officers.”

The incident occurred a little more than 24 hours before Boyer was to officially launch his re-election bid at a gathering at the Fairgrounds July 2, and was the first fatal suspect shooting during Boyer’s four-year tenure. The incident also occurred in the wake of recent shootings involving King County Sheriff’s deputies or detectives.

“This is the real world,” Boyer said. “They (officers) face this type of danger every day. The facts are clear; a full and complete investigation needs to be conducted now.”

State Patrol Troopers initiated the pursuit at about 4:30 p.m. Monday near Trigger Avenue, but abandoned the effort as rush-hour traffic near the Navy Yard posed potential safety problems.

Sheriff’s deputies picked up the chase minutes later, and it ended in a fatal confrontation in South Kitsap at about 4:50 p.m.

The identities of the three deputies will not be released pending the investigation into the shooting incident. Another deputy, who was initially placed on administrative leave with the other three deputies will return to work. That deputy is considered a witness in the case.

The State Patrol is leading a joint inquiry with the Sheriff’s Office into the shooting to ensure objectivity and as a matter of standard procedure, according to authorities.

Last August, the Sheriff’s Office led a joint investigation with the state patrol after State Trooper Ron Kessler shot and killed Port Angeles resident Rosa Hammer during a traffic stop in Gorst. Authorities determined there was no wrongdoing in that case.

Because of this ongoing investigation, the Sheriff’s Office declined to comment this week about the details of the shooting incident — about whether Buckendorf fired a gun at all, or if he shot a gun first, if he shot at deputies, or if intoxicants played a role.

“We don’t have a lot of information on his state of mind at this time,” said Detective Mike Davis. “We expect the full investigation to be complete soon.”

Some information has been released by detectives, however.

The truck driven by Buckendorf belonged to his former employer in Quilcene, and was reported stolen earlier that day in addition to other items.

During a search of the truck, authorities found four long rifles, five handguns and 14 knives. Those weapons also belonged to Buckendorf’s former employer.

Another handgun belonging to Buckendorf’s ex-employer was also located next to his body. Investigators are still waiting for the results of a blood tests to determine if alcohol or intoxicants were involved.

At 4:24 p.m. witnesses called 911 to report an erratically driven truck on State Route 3 near Poulsbo, according to Trooper Glen Tyrrell, a spokesman for the patrol.

Troopers spotted Buckendorf five minutes later, driving southbound from Trigger Avenue, and followed him to Kitsap Way. Troopers activated their sirens, but Buckendorf wouldn’t pull over, and troopers had to discontinue the pursuit because the truck started to drive on the shoulder and weave through rush-hour traffic.

“When we are involved in something like that, the overriding issue is safety,” Tyrrell said. “We would not want to cause him to act recklessly as a result of trying to escape us. We continually assess the overriding safety of the public to see if it warrants continuing.”

A Sheriff’s deputy, aware of the abandoned pursuit, spotted the red truck at about 4:45 p.m. near State Route 3 at Gorst, heading toward Belfair. Lights flashing, deputies pursued the truck, which ultimately turned east onto Lake Flora Road. At some point, the truck got turned around somehow and Buckendorf fled on foot.

What followed will be publically revealed once the investigation is completed, authorities say.

Buckendorf’s troubled past is evidenced by his criminal record.

He was convicted of two felonies; one for attempting to elude police officers in 1987 and another for stolen-property possession in 1988.

At the time of the shootings, there were two arrest warrants out on him for probation violation and for fourth-degree assault.

Immediately following the shooting, peer support was offered to the deputies at the scene for counseling and a volunteer chaplain was made available.

The Sheriff’s Office plans to offer a debriefing for deputies.

“The community should not just speak out, but shout out,” Boyer said. “Violence isn’t acceptable. When you have disrespect for officers you have disrespect for everybody.”

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