by: Deborah Horne Updated:
KENT, Wash. - The chaos began just before 11 Sunday morning.
Kent police approached a man they described as suspicious at the Howard Johnson Inn on 86th Avenue South, but the man took off running.
"There was a suspect that was running past central with a gun," said Debbie Swanson. Her friend, who works as a barista nearby, told her she saw the man take off. She described him.
"He's tall, Caucasian, got a green coat on, a dark hat and he was brandishing a gun when all this started," said Swanson.
Five Kent police officers found the man an hour and a half later and confronted him a few hundred yards away in a parking lot.
Keith Cerjance was sitting in his car outside Carpinto Brothers fruit stand where he works when he heard the shots.
"A long series of popping sounds, followed by a big fireball that came up," said Cerjance. "All of it caught my attention, believe you me, but i started going the other way real quick.
Kent police said at least one of the shots ignited a propane tank that caused a huge explosion.
"[It] resulted in four of our officers getting burnt as well and injuries," said Melanie Frazier, Kent police detective. And the subject suffered life threatening injuries due to gunshot fire."
"Not from the explosion?" Frazier was asked.
"Not from the explosion," she said.
"And he's dead?" a reporter asked.
"He is deceased," she replied.
At one point, officers, unsure of what they were dealing with, evacuated the area, shutting down Carpinto Brothers, twice.
"Very scary," said Joe Aramburo, a Carpinto Brothers employee. "Somebody tapped me on the shoulder and it made me jump so high. You're just emotional."
Two officers suffered minor burns from the fire. All four officers were taken to Valley Medical Center in Renton for observation.
The five officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
They have not revealed any details about the suspect.