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Man killed by police in Selah standoff was a sex offender

1-5-2014 Washington:

SELAH, Wash. — Investigators on Saturday were still trying to piece together what led a man to open fire on police before he was killed in a shootout Friday, and whether he was involved in thefts that led sheriff’s deputies to search the rural Selah property where he died.

A woman who identified herself as the man’s stepsister told the Yakima Herald-Republic that Jesse J. Humphrey probably fired upon officers because he feared he would be arrested and sent back to prison.

The woman, Kassi Fishnick, said Humphrey was a convicted sex offender who had failed to register with law enforcement.

“My brother thought he was wanted for not being registered,” she said.

Investigators spent Saturday combing the rural property — a couple of run-down trailers surrounded by a weedy field located at 431-435 S. Rushmore Road — collecting evidence. Chief Civil Deputy Bob Udell of the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office said investigators, led by the Washington State Patrol, would return today to inspect and collect evidence inside the trailers and the motor home in which Humphrey was killed.

He said deputies went to the property Friday with a search warrant after two separate theft investigations were linked to the address. One involved the theft of an iPhone and credit cards from a car in West Valley; the other involved a stolen vehicle.

Humphrey, 30, was apparently living in the motor home, and when the deputies searching the property asked him to get out of it about 3:45 p.m., he opened fire, according to Acting Chief Criminal Deputy John Durand.

The deputies returned fire and called for backup. More than 50 officers from several law enforcement agencies assisted at the scene, including a Yakima Police Department SWAT team.

Humphrey apparently called 911 from inside the motor home during the standoff, according to Udell. He spent nearly an hour talking with a Yakima police negotiator, Udell said, but they were unable to reach a solution and Humphrey resumed shooting at the officers.

“There was fear that he was going to attempt to drive off,” Udell said, so officers shot at the tires to try to disable the motor home.

Udell said Humphrey had at least one long gun and authorities are investigating whether he used multiple weapons. He was killed by officers returning fire.

“The number of rounds fired by the officers was dwarfed by the rounds fired by the suspect,” Udell said.

Yakima County Coroner Jack Hawkins said Humphrey died from multiple gunshot wounds, although he declined to say how many.

The Washington State Patrol has taken the lead on investigating the shooting, Udell said. The officers who fired at the motor home have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing.

His stepsister described Humphrey as depressed and living in fear that he would be taken back to prison for not registering as a sex offender in Yakima County after he became homeless.

“All he would ever say is ‘I’m not going back,’” Fishnick said. “He was a good person, he just made some bad decisions.”

Fishnick, who lives in Tukwila, learned of Humphrey’s death when she saw reports of the shooting on the news Friday night and recognized the motor home where her stepbrother had been living. She said her aunt owns the motor home.

Udell said his office couldn’t find a criminal record for Humphrey in Yakima County. Deputies contacted him once at the motor home last year, but Udell declined to say why. He was not arrested.

State electronic court records examined by the Herald-Republic show that Humphrey had a conviction in Clallam County for failing to register as a sex offender in 2004 and was charged with failing to register in Kittitas County in 2008, although that charge was apparently dismissed. He is listed as a Level 2 sex offender in Kittitas County for second-degree child molestation, but no details about the date or location of that conviction could be located online.

Fishnick believes that Humphrey probably had nothing to do with the stolen cellphone deputies tracked to the property, but that his fear of going back to prison caused him to panic when the officers knocked on the door.

“Jesse wasn’t one to go out prowling and steal an iPhone,” Fishneck said. “Yesterday he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The cellphone in question, along with some credit cards, were stolen from a car parked at the Cowiche Conservancy trailhead on Scenic Drive in West Valley. After the theft was reported, the phone’s electronic tracking system pointed to the property on South Rushmore Road, Udell said.

Coincidentally, Selah police on Friday afternoon recovered a stolen vehicle in downtown Selah and arrested two men who were “known to associate” at the South Rushmore address, Udell said.

When the two investigations converged, deputies got a search warrant for the property.

“We do hundreds of these a year, serving warrants for stolen property,” Udell said. “This went south so fast.”

But, Udell added, investigators have no idea if Humphrey was in any way involved in either theft. The stolen phone had not yet been recovered by Saturday afternoon.

Five other people were found in a mobile home on the property, Udell said, but none was taken into custody. ..Source.. by Mark Morey

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