09/03/2008

Deputy among 6 dead in Wash. shooting spree

Police say the suspect turned himself in after leading police on chase

Officer Down: Deputy Sheriff Anne Jackson

By Manuel Valdes
The Associated Press


Skagit County Sheriff’s Deputy Anne Jackson, 40, is seen is a handout photo released by the Mount Vernon Police Department Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008. Six people died Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2008, including Deputy Jackson.
(AP Photo/Mount Vernon Police Department )

ALGER, Wash. — A shooting rampage in which six people died along a trail of blood stretching from a tiny town to the state's busiest highway ended with the surrender of a man who was recently released from jail, authorities said.

The man's mother described her son as "desperately mentally ill" and said the sheriff's deputy he's accused of killing had tried to help the family for years.

State Department of Corrections officials identified the gunman in Tuesday's deadly spree as Isaac Zamora, 28, who had just served a six-month jail sentence for drug possession in Skagit County, in northwest Washington.

Since his Aug. 6 release, Zamora had been under community supervision by corrections officers, spokesman Chad Lewis said.

Zamora's mother said she had tried repeatedly to get help for her mentally ill son.

"We're so devastated for the families," Dennise Zamora told The Associated Press by telephone. "I wish it would have been him or me that was killed. That's how deeply I feel about it."

The six who died included Skagit County Sheriff's Deputy Anne Jackson, 40, who was shot while responding to the initial call by Dennise Zamora.

The dead were found at multiple crime scenes. Jackson and a second person were killed at the same location near the small town of Alger, two construction workers found shot nearby, and a body was found a few houses away, Trooper Keith Leary said. A civilian motorist was killed along I-5 near a rest stop, Leary said.

Dennise Zamora described Jackson as a sympathetic figure who had tried to help the family in the past.

"She was very gracious," she said. "She knew exactly what we were going through, said her brother was going through some similar stuff."

At least two others were wounded, including a Washington State Patrol trooper shot while trying to stop the shooter on the freeway, the State Patrol said. A motorcyclist was shot in the arm at a Shell gas station.

"There are a lot of answers that are just not available right now," Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz told a news conference late Tuesday.

After the shootings in the Alger area, the armed man raced south on the freeway at speeds in excess of 90 mph, with troopers, sheriff's deputies and Mount Vernon police in pursuit, Leary said.

The first shootings were reported shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday and the suspect was in custody by about 4:30 p.m. He turned himself in at the Skagit County Sheriff's Office.

The wounded trooper drove himself to a hospital and was released after treatment. He was identified as Trooper Troy Giddings. The other victims were not immediately identified.

Since his Aug. 6 release, Zamora had reported as ordered to corrections officials and had passed drug and alcohol screenings, Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail said.

"I want to extend our profound sorrow and heartfelt sympathy for the victims of the shootings," Vail said. "This is a senseless loss of the lives of innocent citizens and a member of our law-enforcement family."

Gov. Chris Gregoire called for an independent third-party review to be led by the head of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and a prosecutor to be appointed by the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

"I will be directing them to look into how this case was handled and provide an initial report to me within 10 days," Gregoire said late Tuesday night.

Hours after the shootings, a group of residents gathered at the Alger Bar and Grill to watch the television news.

"It's devastating for this town," Steve Thomas said, "The people here are very law enforcement-friendly. It's very somber."

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