MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — A 61-year-old Mount Vernon police officer remains in critical condition early Saturday after being shot in the back of the head Thursday night.
Officer Mike "Mick" McClaughry was flown to Harborview Medical Center where he had surgery, but he was alert and spoke to medics, troopers said. He was remembered Friday as a beloved member of the Mount Vernon community who started as a police officer there in 1985.
Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said in news release Sunday that Mike McClaughry is in the intensive care unit.
The suspect, Ernesto Lee Rivas, was taken into custody early Friday morning, and he shot at police during an hours-long standoff.
Police initially said hostages were inside the home, but later said the two males there are persons of interest. They were arrested. Rivas is well known to police and was first sent to a Washington State prison in 1992.
On Sunday, Dec. 18, family released the following statement:
To all the community and friends,
My family and I wanted to express all our gratitude for the outpouring of support that we have received since my father, Office Mike “Mick” McClaughry was critically injured while on duty Thursday November 15th 2016.
My father has had a massive impact on the community and we really didn’t know how much until this tragic event occurred. We have received so many emails, flowers, messages, cards of support, prayers and love. Some of the stories are how my dad changed their lives and in some instances, say that he saved their lives. My dad is a very humble man who doesn’t like to boast about the things that he’s done. He does them because that is who he is and because it is the right thing to do. He never expects any praise for the things he does.
My dad is a fighter, he has a lot to live for and we are very confident that he will recover. It is still a long road to recovery and he will be in critical condition for a while still but we will all be here on that day that he opens his eyes and speaks his first words to us. He is making small but very promising recovery steps and the doctors are astounded at how he is recovering after such a traumatic event (that would be his stubborn side).
We also would like to extend our deepest condolences to all the officers that have lost their lives and we can’t even wrap our heads around losing a father, husband, wife, sister, brother, grandfather, son and friend. We thank them all for their service and offer our prayers to the families. We want to also extend our deepest condolences to the family of Officer “Jake” Gutierrez. We still have our father and we have hope. That hope was taken instantly from them and we can’t express words on how that would feel and what they are going through.
If anyone would like to send their support you can send emails of stories, prayer, etc. to the hospital or to the Mount Vernon police station. There is also a Go Fund Me account started for my family and we are so overwhelmed by the support and generosity that we have received from that site. I am truly grateful to know that my family will be able to not worry about any of the financial woes and be able to focus on what is the most important thing……our dad, our brother, our friend, grandfather, son and husband.
Thank you all,
April McClaughry and Family
Below are time-stamped updates of events as information comes into the KIRO 7 Newsroom.
The Mount Vernon community is supporting McClaughry and department staff. Below is reporter Gary Horcher's update from our 11 p.m. broadcast.
6:04 p.m.: Neighbors spoke to KIRO 7 about Thursday night's standoff and evacuation.
Juan Ibarra said he lives across the street from the suspect's home in Mount Vernon, and that a stray bullet hit his sister's room.
"Lay low in the ground, stay in my room which was in the back area," Ibarra said, describing how he responded.
Late Thursday night, his family was evacuated.
Lavonne Teal lives outside the evacuation zone.
"We locked all the doors and the windows, just in case the guy was loose," Teal said.
Rosemary Danley didn't have to evacuate, but did anyway. "We were scared," she said.
About the officer, Danley said "I just hope and pray that he will be okay."
4:58 p.m.: The officer shot was identified as Mike "Mick" McClaughry, 61. He started with the Mount Vernon Police Department in 1985. An Everett native who attended Washington State University, McClaughry is known for his work with local boy scouts and as a beloved field training officer. He is the father of three children.
The Mount Vernon mayor and police gave a briefing about McClaughry and suspect Ernesto Lee Rivas. Watch the full briefing below.
Rivas, was first incarcerated in Washington in March 1992. He last release from a Washington State prison was April 27, 2009 after completing time for a theft case in Yakima County.
He was in and out of prison between 1992 and 2009. His criminal history includes theft, assault, attempted assault and vehicle theft. He’s a Rivas is a repeat felon who has a history of attempted assault from a 1994 case in Skagit County, where Thursday night’s shooting happened.
The Skagit County prosecutor says that Ernesto Rivas, the adult suspect in the officer shooting, and the two teens arrested are gang members.
The 15-year-old teen was not identified, but he is being held on a $500,000 in officer shooting.
1:44 p.m.: The Skagit County prosecutor says Ernesto Rivas, the adult suspect in the officer shooting, and the two teenagers arrested are gang members.
12:58 p.m.: The two other people arrested, in addition to the shooting suspect Ernesto Rivas, are teenagers. At least one of the teenagers is being held as an adult.
Austin Gonzales, 16, was sent to Skagit County jail.
The hearing for the second teenager is soon. Scroll down to read about Ernesto Rivas' court appearance.
Washington State Patrol says that it will hold a news briefing at 4:30 p.m.
KIRO 7 News has obtained the suspect's DOC picture. Court and Washington State Patrol records show that Ernesto Rivas is 44 and has eight felonies on his record, including unlawful possession of a firearm in 2011 and unlawful imprisonment in 1998. He was subject to a domestic violence protection order last year after the mother of his child accused him of stalking her at work.
Prosecutors are looking to charge the suspect, named Ernesto Rivas, with attempted murder the in shooting of the Mount Vernon police officer.
Skagit County prosecutor told KIRO 7 News that this could be Rivas' third strike, which means he is looking at life in prison. His bail is set at $1 million.
The woman who has children with the suspect accused of shooting the officer talked to reporters before the man's scheduled court appearance.
"[It's about] mental instability. He's been in prison before," she said. "He was upset and a lot of things had escalated him, and a lot people escalated him, and eventually the situation calmed down, and he was able to be brought in.
"Someone shot that cop. I can't say for sure that it's not [children's father]. I can't say for sure that it is," she said.
Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg told reporters in a Friday morning news conference that the officer has been in critical condition since he arrived to the hospital on Thursday night.
Authorities reported that the trooper was alert and conscious when he left the scene. Gregg said patients can leave a scene talking such as the officer did, but as the injury gets worse people can lose that consciousness.
Reporters asked if the officer would fully recover, but Gregg said the hospital does not speculate. She called the injury a “critical scenario.”
"It's day by day, we never speculate. We're a hospital hope. People who come here, we've seen some amazing outcomes and results. But I don't want to speculate, he's very sick, he's very critical. It's day by day. We'll take it day by day. The family will take it that way, we'll take it that way. Like I said, we always have hope," she said.
Gregg encouraged the community to email support to the officer and his family. You can email messages here.
Harborview Medical Center is expected to hold a news conference at 8:15 a.m.
Harborview Medical Center releases information publicly for the first time about the officer injured. They say he remains "critical in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center/UW Medicine."
Troopers told KIRO 7 News after the shooting the officer was in serious condition.
The Mount Vernon officer remains in serious condition. KIRO 7 News heard from doctors that he's in recovery, but his condition is still considered serious.
Authorities still have not released his name.
Investigators tell KIRO 7 News that the suspect has a violent history.
The primary suspect is a 44-year-old man from Mount Vernon. He was taken into custody with two other men. The SWAT team used tear gas to enter the house.
Trooper Keith Leary said the people initially thought to be hostages are now persons of interest.
No citizens were injured during the apprehension. The officer shot is being monitored, and he is in serious but stable condition.
Police will investigate the roles each of the three people in custody had. Trooper Keith Leary said they were getting mixed information about what transpired inside the residence.
“We can only act upon the information we’re getting at the time,” he said.
12:46 a.m.: The primary suspect was taken into custody, a State Patrol spokesman said. A briefing was expected shortly.
12:35 a.m.: The officer is out of surgery at Harborview Medical Center. He in serious but stable condition. Troopers said an update is not expected until later Friday morning.
11:45 p.m.: Troopers said the officer was conscious and even able to speak when he was transported into Harborview Medical Center. Troopers said he has a gunshot wound to the back of his head.
They do not know if the bullet penetrated his skull, but the officer was conscious during the X-rays and scans, prior to surgery.
The officer's family is at Harborview.
Updates from Thursday evening
The police response was in the area of Laventure Road and Fir Street. Residents around the shooting were evacuated from their homes, and Skagit Valley College staff told people to stay inside and put the campus on lockdown.
The incident started shortly after 5:30 p.m. when officers responded to reports of a man shot. That man was grazed and taken in a private vehicle to a nearby hospital. When police arrived they were fired upon by a shooter at the home.
The shooter's motive is unknown.
"We need to make sure we take care of the citizens before anybody else and preserve life as much as we can," an officer at the scene said.
Many police departments around Washington state offered their thoughts and prayers for the officer.
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