SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — Snohomish County prosecutors have charged 50-year-old Richard James Rotter for killing Everett Officer Dan Rocha, at a Starbucks on March 25.
Rotter is being charged with first-degree aggravated murder, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or deliver.
As court documents state, while Rocha was inside a North Everett Starbucks waiting for coffee, he noticed a blue Mini Cooper roll into the parking lot. Not long after, a man began to move items, including guns from the Cooper to a silver Ford Fusion.
Rocha then activated his body camera, stepped outside the Starbucks and contacted Rotter.
During one exchange with Rotter, Rocha said to him, “Do me a favor, bud, leave the guns alone, OK?”
Rotter replied, “Excuse me?”
Rocha: “What’s going on with the guns?”
Rotter: “Uh, the, nothing.”
According to court records, Rocha alerted dispatch and was told Rotter had outstanding arrest warrants and was a convicted felon.
While Rocha talked with dispatch, Rotter stated, “I am a convicted felon.”
Rocha replied: “You are?”
At some point, Rocha told Rotter he could not leave because he was “being investigated on suspicion of unlawful possession of a firearm,” according to police records.
Court records state Rotter became agitated and refused to stop moving guns from one car to the other.
Rocha attempted to take Rotter, who was armed, into custody, but he resisted, documents state.
Investigators found a cellphone video that shows Rotter wrestling with the officer. They fell to the pavement, Rotter pulled out a gun and began firing toward Rocha’s head.
According to court documents, “Five distinct pops can be heard until Officer Rocha’s body camera ends up facing upward, motionless and you can see the defendant stand up and go towards the Mini Copper.”
Rotter allegedly shot Rocha in the head three times. Two other bullets were found in Rocha’s bulletproof vest.
Rotter jumps into his Mini Cooper, backs over Rocha’s body and speeds off, court records state.
Bystanders, officers, and medics came to Rocha’s aid, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Court records state a Glock 19 used by the shooter was found at Rocha’s feet.
Rotter was arrested three miles away following a chase.
When Rotter had his bail hearing, a judge agreed with the Snohomish County prosecutor and set his bail at $5 million.
Investigators got a search warrant for the Mini Cooper and found blood smeared on the passenger’s outside door handle, blood on the undercarriage, right and rear wheel, gear shift, and other places.
Court documents state the blood collected from the scene and cars is believed to belong to Officer Rocha.
In the silver Ford Fusion, detectives found blood on the rear trunk and bumper, a knife, four gun magazines, a 9mm caliber Luger cartridge, a black camera bag that contained 21 grams of a substance believed to be heroin, a sandwich bag believed to contain methamphetamine, five sandwich baggies believed to contain fentanyl, and other items.
A nephew of Rotter believes he was in Everett to “buy and sell guns or drugs.”
A female friend who recently saw Rotter said he was one of the main suppliers of fentanyl in the Tri-Cities. She said he worried he would get caught and end up back in prison.
“But did he indicate what he would do?” an Everett detective asked her.
She replied, “No sir, he just said, I’m not going back there. They’re not gonna take me alive.”
Rotter’s next court appearance is expected on April 19.
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