Federal Way Police Chief Andy Hwang held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at the Federal Way police station to provide updates regarding the early morning officer-involved shooting, when two officers were injured and a man was fatally shot.
“I think incidents like last night reminds all of us the dangers that police officers face, day in and day out, to protect our communities,” Hwang said. “I know the consequences could be certainly a lot worse and other officers could’ve been injured or potentially killed as well.”
One of the involved officers, a 30-year-old male corporal, is a seven-year veteran with the police department, who suffered one gunshot to the chest and another to the arm.
“The ballistic vest undoubtedly saved his life,” Hwang said.
The second officer, a 38-year-old man, is a 13-year law enforcement veteran and has been with Federal Way police department for the past four years, Hwang said. He was shot in the leg.
Both of the officers have been released from hospital care and are expected to make a full recovery, Hwang said.
The deceased suspect is a 23-year-old Federal Way resident and died at the scene as a result of gunshot wounds, Hwang said.
Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, a resident at an apartment complex, located near 30800 block of 14th Ave. S. in Federal Way, called in a disturbance.
Apparently, Hwang said, a male and female were arguing in the parking lot of the apartment complex while sitting in a vehicle. Two officers responded to the location and on scene, they asked for additional officers to assist upon encountering an uncooperative individual.
“During this encounter our officer was shot and our officers returned fire,” Hwang said, noting seven officers were involved in the shooting in total. “So there was a gunfight between the suspect and the officers at the scene.”
The female was sitting in the vehicle when the shooting occurred and fled the scene, Hwang said. Police have not yet identified or located her. Hwang added the suspect shot from the vehicle, but could not specify if the suspect or police shot first.
Based on the information available at the time, Hwang was unable to confirm if the suspect’s death was a result of self-inflicted gunfire or gunshots from Federal Way officers. The shooting involved multiple rounds of fire in total.
As a matter of standard protocol, all seven officers have been placed on administrative leave pending this investigation, Hwang said.
“As officers are ready to come back through return of duty evaluation … we will start bringing them back to the agency,” Hwang said, adding that no officers will return for at least two weeks.
Multi-juridical team VIT is investigating.
While Hwang will not rule out the possibility that the officer’s injuries may have been caused by rounds fired by fellow officers, the Valley Investigations Team will provide more information upon completion of their independent investigation.
“Clearly, it has an operational impact,” Hwang said. “We’re a 24/7 operation, regardless of what occurs or what our members endure. Our people put on the uniform and go out and protect our community every day.”
FWPD will allocate other officers to staffing the night shifts and will also fill shifts with overtime.
The chief expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support from the local community residents along with the care from South King fire and rescue, Medic One, St. Francis and Harborview Medical Center.
When an individual becomes a police officer, they are aware of the dangers of the job, Hwang said, but nonetheless an incident such as this is “troublesome for all.”
“Obviously you don’t want anything like this to occur in your community,” Hwang said of the officer’s safety. “On the other hand … I just couldn’t tell you how grateful I am because in terms of life and death, we’re talking about inches here.”