News

School locked down after police shoot at suspected mail thief

By ELIZABETH CIEPIELA

Staff writer

Thomas Jefferson High School went into a lockdown shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday on the advice of police who were in pursuit of a suspect on foot in the same area.

Sgt. John Urquhart, spokesman for the King County Sheriff Department, said that at 1:27 p.m., police received a 9-1-1 call that a man was stealing mail from mailboxes on the 3900 block of South 302nd Street, near the high school.

When officers arrived, the suspect — described by authorities as a white male in his 20s, with long dark hair — jumped into a stolen bright green, small hatchback automobile and began backing the vehicle toward a sheiff deputy. The officer fired a shot at the car’s tire.

“We’re still investigating that, but we believe (the officer) was probably trying to shoot the tire out,” Urquhart said.

He said the officer apparently fired to keep the car from hitting him.

The car, which authorities said was stolen, then crashed into a tree, and the suspect ran away.

The Sheriff Department’s Guardian One helicopter circled the area for about a half hour, but could not find the suspect, officials said.

The suspect still hadn’t been caught Thursday, although several tips have come in, according to authorities.

Urquhart said the suspect is ”not particularly dangerous” and may be charged with theft, assault or reckless driving if caught.

The high school lockdown ended after about 40 minutes without incident.

Federal Way Public Schools have procedures for securing its school buildings to protect students and employees when potential safety risks arise during searches or other police activity nearby involving suspected criminals.

Staff writer Elizabeth Ciepiela: 925-5565, eciepiela@fedwaymirror.com

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