Washington officer shot identified; remains critical

AP News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2016 11:24 PM
Washington officer shot identified; remains critical

SEATTLE (AP) — Officials have identified a police officer who was shot and critically wounded in Washington state as 61-year-old Mike McClaughry, who is known by the nickname "Mick," police said.

Mount Vernon Police Lt. Christopher Cammock said at a Friday briefing that McClaughry suffered a gunshot wound to the head while investigating a reported shooting in a Mount Vernon neighborhood north of Seattle.

McClaughry is a father of three and a grandfather who started working with the Mount Vernon Police Department in 1985.

Cammock said, "Service might not adequately describe what Mick has done for our community," adding he was the first to run a drug abuse resistance education program, becoming a father figure to many.

He has also been active in scouting and as a field training officer, training about three-quarters of the officers who currently work at the police department, Cammock said.

McClaughry remained in critical condition at a Seattle hospital Friday afternoon although Cammock said he has shown some improvement.

"The news is more positive than negative as to his condition," Cammock said Friday. "He is resilient."

A repeat felon arrested in the officer's shooting was ordered held on $1 million bail Friday.

Ernesto Lee Rivas, 44, was taken into custody overnight following an hour-long standoff at a home in Mount Vernon, during which he repeatedly fired at officers, the Washington State Patrol said. Hostage negotiators spent several hours communicating with him.

Two juveniles were also arrested and prosecutors said they were being held on $500,000 bail each.

McClaughry was shot when he was canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses to a report of another shooting Thursday evening, in which the victim was grazed by a bullet.

McClaughry was taken to Skagit Valley Hospital and was stabilized before being transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Earlier reports said the officer was in serious condition, but the hospital said Friday his condition was critical.

The neighborhood where Thursday's shooting happened in Mount Vernon, about 60 miles north of Seattle, was closed by police while officers and a SWAT team were attempting to negotiate.

The shooting came less than a month after a Tacoma police officer was killed responding to a domestic violence call. Officer Reginald "Jake" Gutierrez, 45, was fatally shot Nov. 30. The suspected gunman was killed by a sheriff's marksman, ending an 11-hour standoff.

Rivas made an initial court appearance Friday. On advice from his attorney, he answered no questions — not even to confirm his identity, the Skagit Valley Herald reported. Prosecutors have 72 hours to file charges.

Rivas has an extensive criminal record that includes eight felony convictions, according to court and patrol records. In 1998, he reached a plea deal with Yakima County prosecutors that saved him from a life sentence for a third-strike conviction for his part in the abduction and interrogation of four people he believed stole a woman's necklace, according to a Yakima Herald-Republic story.

Instead of life, he was sentenced to 15 years — and gloated about it to a police detective in the courtroom, saying with a smile, "Oh, by the way, does that mean I got four balls and a walk?"

The sentence angered Yakima police Detective Eric Walls, the Herald-Republic reported at the time. In a statement to the judge, he said Rivas should never be allowed to leave prison.

Records reviewed by The Associated Press show Rivas was convicted of unlawful firearm possession in 2011, and in November 2015, the mother of Rivas' then-4-month-old child obtained a domestic violence protection order against him, saying he had been stalking her at her job at a Dollar Tree store in Mount Vernon.

"He sits outside my work for long periods of time, comes into my workplace and complains about me," she wrote in a petition for the order. "He almost hit me with his vehicle while I was getting carts, yelling at me in front of customers."

The issue, she said, was that he wanted possession of a Chevy Suburban they owned. She sought police help to retrieve a key to the vehicle from him.