SEATTLE, Wash. - The man killed by a SWAT team on Bainbridge Island – after he was allegedly shooting toward shore from his sailboat – was a former Amazon employee who battled severe depression, according to court documents.
Court documents say job loss, eviction exasperated depression
Robert Yeiser, 34, claimed his depression became worse after losing his job at Amazon, where he worked a variety of web services jobs for nearly six years, according to a LinkedIn page matching Yeiser’s description.
Shortly after departing the company, Yeiser had a dispute last summer with his former landlord over past due rent for a marina space in South Lake Union.
In court documents obtained by KIRO 7 News, an email from the landlord’s lawyer noted that Yeiser demanded $8,000 for alleged damage to his sailboat’s motor. The landlord denied responsibility for the damage and sought payment of $1,628.
Yeiser wrote in a declaration in October, attempting to stop a court order evicting him.
“I suffer from depression. I recently lost my job at Amazon, which has exacerbated my depression,” he wrote. “My dispute with my landlord, the Plaintiff, has also exacerbated my depression.”
“I have no driver’s license. I usually travel by bicycle, but my bicycle was stolen,” he wrote, explaining a missed hearing.
The judge denied the motion and evicting him from the South Lake Union on Westlake Avenue, where – since 2013 – he docked his 55-foot motorsailer “the Flying Gull.”
Friends tell KIRO 7 News about his mental illness
Someone who has been friends with Yeiser for years talked to KIRO 7 News. He said Yeiser moved to Seattle to work for Amazon.
Described as intense, intelligent, and easily angered, Yeiser had mental illness-related issues, according to friends. They tried to get him to talk to a therapist.
Friends said Yeiser was anti-corporate and went on Twitter rants against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. It's unclear if those tweets happened before or after he lost his job.
Since losing his job, Yeiser was working on something inventive on his boat, and friends tried to get space for him at a metal shop to work on inventions.
Seattle Police Department confirms Yeiser’s parents called police last summer to report their son was mentally ill and had guns on his boat. Police do not have records of charges from that incident.
According to friends, Yeiser was evicted not just over past due rent, but that he was writing strange email to marina management and residents.
Different court documents show DUI arrest
Just three weeks ago, Yeiser appeared in Seattle Municipal Court on June 20, pleading guilty to reckless driving nearly a year after he was arrested for a DUI.
In that incident on Mercer Street, his blood alcohol content measured at .18, and he claimed to have drank an entire bottle of wine, according to The Seattle Times.
KIRO 7 News obtained video and audio of when Yeiser entered his guilty plea. He was scheduled to have a sentencing August 11.
How the shooting unfolded
Yeiser's apparent unraveling life ended over the weekend when shots were fired in Eagle Harbor.
Authorities report that Yeiser started firing shots toward shoreline homes from his sailboat late Saturday night.
"I couldn't tell where he was shooting," witness Susan Stephens told KIRO 7 on Sunday. Stephens and her husband live a few feet from where Yesier’s boat was anchored.
After several hours of working to end the situation peacefully, members of the Kitsap County Regional SWAT team boarded two boats and approached the suspect's vessel.
"They spent an hour and a half trying to get him out of the boat … He was in the dinghy and had his hands raised over his head,” Gary Stephens said. "Then I saw his hands go down and he got back up on the boat."
Susan Stephens said Yeiser’s boat had been anchored in Eagle Harbor for about three weeks. Authorties have not released a motive for why Yeiser started firing shots.
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