King County deputy may have been saved by cellphone in shootout which left suspect dead, another deputy injured

WOODINVILLE, Wash. — One of two King County deputies struck by bullets fired by a car prowling suspect may have been saved by his cellphone, according to law enforcement sources close to the investigation.

The shooting happened at about 1:15 p.m. Monday outside the Beaumont Apartments, in the 14000 block of Northeast 183rd Street, Sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Meyer said.

The 55-year-old deputy--who was originally thought to have been shot in the back--suffered  abrasions and cuts when a cellphone he was carrying in a pocket was shattered by a bullet fired by a suspect, and the phone effectively slowed or stopped the bullet, sources say.

The other deputy was shot in the upper arm and was treated and released from Evergreen Medical Center, according to a King County Sheriff’s spokesman.

The suspect, who witnesses say fired at deputies first, was killed when one of the deputies returned fire, according to investigators.

The deputies, who are both in their 50s, responded to a 911 call reporting “suspicious circumstances” possibly involving a car prowler, Meyer said.

Deputies saw a man walking outside the apartment complex with a rifle case over his shoulder, law enforcement sources told KIRO 7.

Neighbors tell us the quiet street where the shooting happened seemed like an “unlikely place for a shootout,” but some heard shouting and gunshots right below their apartment windows and told their families to take cover.

“I could see everything, and it was scary,” Melgar said. “I have three kids, and I told them to go into the bathroom just in case,” Melgar said.

“They were all yelling and they were telling someone to stand down,” she said, adding that the unidentified suspect fired at least twice at the deputies first.

“I heard gunshots,” she said. “I thought they sounded fake. I couldn’t believe it. So I looked out of my balcony and I saw cops there.”

Melgar said she saw one deputy hit in the upper arm, and one who appeared to have been shot in the back. She believes one deputy returned fire, killing the suspect.

On Monday afternoon, the Seattle Police Department’s Force Investigation Team took lead of an independent investigation to find out what led to the shooting and whether deadly force was justified.

None of the deputies wore body cameras, according to investigators.

Hear from a woman who was nearby when the incident happened in the video below.