by: Rick Price Updated:
ORTING, Wash. - Pierce County sheriff’s deputies are investigating a bizarre and lethal shootout in the Orting neighborhood of The Buttes.
Authorities said an off-duty 35-year-old Fife police officer shot and killed a 21-year-old neighbor who confronted the officer with a rifle and later pointed it at the officer’s home.
Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ed Troyer said the man came to the officer’s house at 207th Street Court East and 197th Avenue East Tuesday about 10 p.m.
“What we've determined is that he had displayed the weapon earlier, and the Fife police officer had told him to leave the house, and the Fife police officer called 911. But he came back in the driveway, his car running, the engine was revved up, and then there were some shots fired,” said Troyer.
The Fife officer said when he heard what he thought were sounds of several gunshots hitting the house, he returned fire, killing the man.
Police found a rifle and what appeared to be a holster inside the man’s car, but it's unclear if the man ever fired at the officer or his home.
Neighbor Jason Davis talked to the man shortly before he was killed by the officer.
“He was on something,” said Davis. “And then he asked if I'd heard about the shooting in Puyallup. I was like, ‘No.’ Then he said, 'Do you want to help me?' I was like, ‘No.’"
Davis said the man then drove his car down the street to the officer's house, knocked on the door, and then went back to his car.
Troyer said detectives aren’t sure if the man who died knew the officer, or if he targeted the house because a marked police car was parked prominently in the driveway.
Several police cars from various agencies not connected with the incident were visible in the housing development, suggesting that a number of officers live there.
Troyer said the man who died was acting oddly before the shooting started.
“(He) had some issues (Tuesday night) in the neighborhood, ranting and raving, calling 911, talking about wanting to be involved, or had been involved in a shooting,” said Troyer. “We're investigating those right now, and it appears that he had some mental health issues."
Troyer also said the man had threatened to kill his girlfriend or claimed to have killed her.
Deputies checked on her and other neighbors, and everyone was OK.
A KIRO 7 crew saw deputies take away evidence, including several marijuana plants and grow lights from the dead man’s house.
Deputies searched outside the officer’s second-story home, looking for bullet holes.
Law enforcement sources told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News South Sound reporter Kevin McCarty Ben Ellett, 21, had recently destroyed his own computer believing he was being tracked by the government. He also threw away his credit cards. One source said Ellett’s girlfriend had filed a police report because she was growing more afraid of his behavior.
Ellett was an avid photographer with a website advertising his services. He was also a street racing enthusiast and appears to have run an online business called Boss Performance that sold accessories for customizing cars. The website contained no other contact information