Man who killed Tacoma officer caught impersonating police weeks before shooting

By: Kevin McCarty

Updated:

The man suspected of killing a Tacoma police officer was the subject of an officer safety bulletin in mid-November after he was spotted walking through the Tacoma Mall armed and dressed like a plainclothes cop.

>> Jake Gutierrez, 45, was honored in a procession on Friday. Read about that here. 

The bulletin obtained by KIRO 7 shows Bruce Randall Johnson walking through the Tacoma Mall Nov. 15 wearing a Sheriff's Department hat, a set of handcuffs on his belt and carrying what appeared to be a soft rifle case.

Johnson has been identified as the man who shot and killed Tacoma police Officer Jake Gutierrez, 45,
during a domestic violence call on Wednesday. 

>>See our breaking coverage of the shooting and standoff here.

Johnson was shot to death by a SWAT team following an 11-hour standoff.

A still picture taken from mall surveillance video shows the 38-year-old Johnson carrying the rifle case over his right shoulder as he walked past shoppers.

The bulletin states Johnson became irate when mall security tried to talk to him.

After a brief exchange with security Johnson purchased some coffee and left making obscene gestures and yelling, "See, see what they are doing to me?"

Tacoma police stopped Johnson as he drove away and spotted an unloaded 20-gauge shotgun in the front seat of his car.

Asked why he was attempting to look like a police officer the bulletin states Johnson replied that he "liked police and wanted essentially to fit in with law enforcement.”

Police let Johnson go because he was clear of warrants and he legally possessed the shotgun.

Johnson was "trespassed for life" from mall property following the incident and police issued a bulletin warning officers throughout Pierce County he was potentially dangerous.

Friday night KIRO 7 also spoke with Damon Daniels, who was Johnson’s boss at Sam and Terry’s Barber Shop. He fired Johnson the morning of the shooting for consistently not showing up on time to open the store, for erratic behavior and comments, and because of a disturbing incident the same day at the mall incident.
 
“I found a shotgun shell on the bathroom floor,” Daniels said.
 
Another barber told Daniels that Johnson had the gun at the shop prior to heading to the gun range.
 
He told Johnson: “If you have that in the shop it’s a big, big problem for me,”
 
KIRO 7 also obtained a photograph of Johnson following a fight in 2015 showing him with blood on his forehead.

Johnson fought with a Tacoma medical marijuana store employee, pulling a gun when the man refused to sell him pot because Johnson didn’t have a doctor’s prescription.

>> Related: Suspect in Tacoma shooting exhibited 'odd behavior'

The employee, who asked that KIRO 7 only use the name Vic, said he overpowered Johnson, disarming him and hitting him repeatedly after Johnson said he would kill him.

“That guy, he wasn’t a big guy,” Vic said. “He really had little man syndrome. He had that demeanor. He wanted to be a tough guy.”

KIRO 7 Reporter Henry Rosoff contributed to this report.

Team coverage of Tacoma officer shot and killed:

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