PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — A domestic violence call turned deadly Saturday night when Pierce County deputies shot and killed a man they say reached for his holstered gun.
But the man's girlfriend says he didn't know who was at the door when he answered.
This happened around 9:30 p.m. Saturday on 161st Street South in Spanaway.
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Deann Bates says she and her boyfriend, 50-year-old Robert Smith Jr., were arguing inside the Spanaway apartment they shared.
"We were having a tiff," she said, still distraught. "Sometimes that happens."
But she says she called 911 because she suspected her neighbors had.
"I had been coached by my husband, almost husband, to call the paramedics and tell them 'he is armed,' " she said. " 'He has a weapon.' "
Smith, she said, was careful with his weapon.
"He does not brandish his weapon at anybody," she said. "The only time he's ever been in a feeling that he has to is because somebody's threatening me."
Pierce County sheriff's Detective Ed Troyer says Bates told a 911 operator she was afraid of Smith.
"We don't know what he was thinking," said Troyer. "Because we never had a chance to talk to him."
He was asked if they knew whether he had attacked his girlfriend.
"She was hiding in the closet," he said. "And when the whole thing was over, we found her still in the closet."
And, Troyer says, Smith refused to cooperate.
"When we contacted him at the door step, he was armed, had a firearm on and visible," said Troyer. "And (he) was not talking or negotiating with our deputies. And he was told not to touch the gun. But he drew the gun out. As he drew the gun out, our deputies fired at him."
Now Deann Bates says her boyfriend should not have been killed.
"Somebody's life was taken unduly," Bates said. "And somebody needs to make reparations for it."
And his death has profoundly changed her life.
"We were scheduled to be married in a few months," she said. "And this was my person, my soulmate. And they took him from me."
Late Sunday afternoon, deputies were interviewing neighbors as they continue their investigation into this shooting.
The two deputies who fired the shots are on paid administrative leave.
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