Standoff with armed suspect locks down Bellevue/Denny area — Police say mentally ill man dead in ‘officer involved’ shooting

A standoff suspect shouts at police from the Marq building above E Denny Way (Images: CHS(

A standoff suspect shouts at police from the Marq building above E Denny Way (Images: CHS)

UPDATE: With a series of pops, more yelling and then the sound of a flash bang explosion, a police standoff with a man believed to be armed with a gun inside a Bellevue Ave E condo building came to an end some eight hours after the incident began.

Police have confirmed that the suspect has died in an officer involved shooting. No police were injured in the incident.

UPDATE: The man has been identified as Joel Reuter. He was 28 years old. Seattle Police interim chief Jim Pugel said that Reuter was not allowed to have firearms in his possession due to court orders and that detectives are working to figure out how he acquired the Glock pistol seen by witnesses and recovered from Reuter’s residence. Reuter’s online accounts reveal a man suffering from mental illness with an interest in guns and the 2nd Amendment. Friends say he was diagnosed with cancer within the last year.

Police say the man began shooting at SWAT units around 10:30 AM. SWAT returned fire, striking the man and killing him, police say. It was not clear what lead to the outbreak of gunfire as negotiations with the man continued.

Several medics were called to the scene just before 10:45 AM. Two SPD guild representatives were also summoned to the scene.

A prolonged medic response followed as police made sure the area was secure and safe. Police declined to specify the nature of the concerns but said that information gathered lead them to believe the man’s residence could present a danger to emergency responders. Members of SPD’s arson and bomb squad were called to the scene as part of the response.

People who know the suspect say he had been exhibiting recent signs of mental illness and strange behavior. SPD said its Crisis Intervention team that handles mental illness issues was “very aware of” the suspect due to recent interactions.

Bystanders who said they live in the building said the gunman had been acting increasingly suspicious in recent weeks.

One resident of the building said the gunman had posted a anti-Obama poster on his door, warning that the president would die if anyone entered the room.

A small group of people huddled together a block away from the scene said they were friends with the gun man but would not speak about him until they had more information.

Here is the preliminary report from SPD:

An eight hour standoff at Capitol Hill apartment building ended Friday morning after a man, who had barricaded himself inside his apartment, opened fire and was fatally shot by Seattle police officers.

Early this morning, just before 3 AM, neighbors at the apartment complex called police and reported hearing 5 gunshots on the building’s fifth floor. One caller also reported seeing an armed man inside the building’s elevator.

As the chaotic situation unfolded, officers learned the armed 28-year-old man was a resident in the building who previously had a number of contacts with officers and members of the department’s Crisis Intervention Team, which works with people suffering from mental health crises.

When officers approached the man’s apartment, they could hear the man watching what appeared to be a gun maintenance training video on his television, and heard what they believed was the sound of the man racking and dry-firing a gun.

When officers tried to contact the man through the door, he turned the volume on his television up, drowning out officers’ voices and making it difficult to communicate with the man.

Officers then began working to evacuate the building.

As police called for a negotiator, they could hear the man barricading furniture against his apartment door. Officers then called for SWAT and the Crisis Intervention Team to respond to the scene.

Over the next seven and a half hours, police intermittently made contact with the armed man who, at one point, came out on his apartment balcony armed with a handgun with an extended magazine. During the incident, the man repeatedly told officers he was prepared to defend himself against “zombies” and refused numerous requests by police and negotiators to surrender his gun to officers.

Just before 10:30 AM, the 28-year-old man opened fire through an apartment window onto Denny Way.

Two officers returned fire, striking the man.

Officers lost sight of the suspect in his apartment, but negotiators in the building could still hear the man inside.

Because the man had barricaded his door and previously made threats to booby trap his apartment, officers carefully planned a careful tactical entry into the apartment.

Just before 11 AM, officers breached the door and methodically searched the apartment, where they found the suspect.

Officers called for medics, but the man succumbed to his injuries.

The two Seattle police officers who fired at the suspect has been put on paid administrative leave, as is department policy in all officer-involved shooting incidents.

The Seattle Police Department’s Homicide Unit will now investigate the incident.

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ORIGINAL REPORT: A reportedly armed man engaged in a standoff with police in the 100 block of Bellevue Ave E. Seattle Police and SWAT units filled the area as many streets Friday morning on the western edge of Capitol Hill were closed during the response including the major Denny Way artery.

We’re still gathering details on where the suspect is located, what area is locked down and how long the incident has been unfolding. CHS has been told units have been on the scene since before 5 AM. UPDATE: We’ve been told Denny from Olive to Melrose and Bellevue Ave E near Denny are locked down as of 6:20 AM. Metro is rerouting buses near the scene.

via @kevinseattle: "SWAT guy with top pot"

via @kevinseattle: “SWAT guy with top pot”

UPDATEx2: The incident apparently began after a report of “shots fired” in the area early Friday morning. Police have negotiated with the barricaded suspect who is believed to be armed with a gun inside The Marq Condo building. Just before 3 AM, a 911 caller reported seeing a resident carrying a Glock handgun inside the building. The caller soon after heard what sounded like give gunshots from the 5th floor of the building.

UPDATEx3: A resident of the building says not everybody has been cleared out but that he was awoken at 5a and told to leave the building.

UPDATEx4 — 8:30 AM: The standoff continues following tense moments earlier as the suspect began yelling from a balcony above E Denny Way. Media at the scene were pushed back by police as the man could be seen holding what appeared to be a gun as he shouted at the police.

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We are also updating the situation via Twitter — @jseattle

This is a breaking story and not all information has been confirmed with authorities at this time.

CHS reporter Bryan Cohen has contributed to this report.

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100 thoughts on “Standoff with armed suspect locks down Bellevue/Denny area — Police say mentally ill man dead in ‘officer involved’ shooting

  1. When I drove by Denny on Olive around 5:15 this morning, it looked like it had been going on all night since there were many vehicles parked up along (and some on) the sidewalk.

  2. We drove past the area at 6:15am, and the intersections of both Denny/Bellevue and Denny/Melrose were blocked off to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

    • Resident inside the police tape warns if you leave the blocked off area, SPD won’t let u back in. Be ready

  3. I live in the Marq Condos and I was awoken around 3:30am this morning by the disturbance coming from unit 501. I’m on the first floor and am still in the building as I was unaware of either the swat teams outside or the evacuation efforts.

  4. I woke up and live on Denny and Olive heard a domestic yelling match going on between a man and woman and the street . The guy in the photo looks like the man. The woman had a small dog and it looked like a friend was trying to calm the two of them down. Residence from a nearby complex came down to try to seperate them. This was at about 245 am.

    • If it is the same man, is there a chance that the woman is the apartment? Or does it seem like it is only him in the apartment?

  5. Pingback: Standoff continues on Capitol Hill this morning | The Today File | Seattle Times

  6. Not sure. Basically they were yelling pretty loudly for around 30 minutes. There was a woman with what looked like a corgi, another man in white trying to defend her and break up the fight and the man that looks like the guy in the photo pretty much flipping out. All of them seemed pretty drunk. Neighbors came out to break it up around 3 and the fight went from olive and bellevue down to denny. I hope the woman and her friend are OK. There are so many drunk fights between couples around town and especially during holidays.

  7. Nah, this wasn’t a crime-of-passion type of situation. This guy was looking for attention since midday the previous day — he had his amps at full volume facing out the window and was blasting car alarm sounds and rants against George W. Bush for 7 hours and then started right back up again at around 3 am. As a neighbor right in front of that noise, it really ruined my 4th of July. There was another building where someone was setting off illegal aerial fireworks just a building away that could easily have been confused with the sound of gun shots — I doubt this guy is terribly dangerous — just a jerk looking for attention is more like it.

    • I live in this building and can attest to this guy blasting rants and “freedom” music all day yesterday. I was trying to enjoy the patio, but that wasn’t happening. There were also fireworks going off in the area at all hours of the night, well past 3-4am. Could have easily been confused with gunfire, but who knows…

  8. That would be much better if that is the case. Totally looks like the guy I saw though they left to that direction at about 2:45 maybe 2:47

  9. We were walking on the sidewalk below. We heard loud music from an apartment above. As a joke my friend yelled “Turn the music up!” Nobody could hear us either way, but it appears to me that was the gunman’s apartment. Odd to see this unfold.

  10. This person is not a jerk. He suffers from mental illness. He lives alone and doesn’t date women. He is a friend of mine and he needs help.

  11. I really hope your friend is OK. I live across the street and heard shots fired (I think, Could have been fireworks). I am praying for him to just come out. My heart goes out to him.

  12. I’m not sure why this article says “came to end” swat is still there and another window just got blown out.

  13. I live on the block and was outside near one of the police man who is blocking the street to traffic, and there were shots fired again this morning around 10:30, and then another loud boom about 10 mins ago that caused fire alarms to start sounding. It doesn’t sound good…

  14. The cops are pulling out and the medics don’t appear to be in a hurry so it looks like the basterds killed the poor guy

    • Bastards?! This man was a danger to himself and more importantly to hundreds of people around him. I’m sorry your friend is dead, but the police did EXACTLY what they’re supposed to do.

      I have to wonder how he got a gun if he was mentally ill?

  15. I will say that, it appears like, they tried to work it out the only problem I have is there are many non lethal methods death is not necessary with the technology today.

    • Name some of the “non-lethal” technology that would have been of use here, and explain how YOU would have employed it.

  16. We were/are on the second floor across the street. I believe the man is dead, one of the paramedics was covered in blood… We thought someone was just being an asshole and blasting music, and we totally yelled out the window for it to stop. But that was at 4:45 why would we not have noticed the SWAT team..?

  17. Pingback: SPD: Armed man in Capitol Hill standoff shot dead by police | Seattle News

    • What would you have had the police do? The guy was shooting out the window at them in a densely populated neighborhood. It’s terrible that he died, but if they had wanted to “murder” him they wouldn’t have tried to peacefully resolve the situation for hours. Give me a break.

      • Agreed. The reports say the standoff began around 3AM, so I would say 7 hours of trying to talk and negotiate the guy to drop the weapon, and surrender without harm, is very reasonable. Further, the police did not shoot, according to the later report, until after the guy began firing shots outside the apartment. Perhaps suicide by cop? Glad none of the officers nor any nearby civilians were injured.

      • Did he start shooting at them before or after police began their benevolent quest to restore the peace? I see far more misery brought to a citizenry by a police force that lethally escalates situations to satisfy their need to assert their authority. SPD has a horrible track record for doing little other than making problems.

    • I was listening to the scanner and sneaking peaks from a nearby roof while this was happening. I could see two snipers very well hidden on the roof of the opposite building, and I could see his windows.

      According to the scanner, he was observed smoking narcotics (most likely meth) and pacing around with a Glock with a 30 round clip in his hand singing and talking to himself. He told police he’d open fire if he saw anyone point anything at him, and he barricaded his door with a couch. Police lowered a phone to his deck from the apartment above and yelled at him to take the phone. A few minutes later, he fired several shots at his windows, hitting the phone, which in hindsight was probably his only intention.

      The part where it turns tragic is that whether he spotted the snipers or not, they were pretty much directly in his line of fire and so he was shooting “at them” whether he realized it or not.

      After the exchange of fire, they lowered a camera on a boom and saw blood but no body in the main room, so they blasted his door open (which blew out the windows with the bullet holes and set off the fire alarms) and went in.

  18. “Bystanders who said they live in the building said the gunman had been acting increasingly suspicious in recent weeks.

    One resident of the building said the gunman had posted a anti-Obama poster on his door, warning that the president would die if anyone entered the room.”

    Could all of this have been prevented IF one or more people had the initiative to report his behavior long ago?

    • According to the comments at the KOMO link posted further up the thread, his friends/family/coworkers tried very hard to get him help. The threshold to get someone committed even temporarily is much higher than most people think it is and is harder in practice than it would seem.

      It’s all a terrible shame and my heart goes out to everyone involved.

    • My friend lives in this building. He reported this man to the police, with copious documentation, 6 weeks ago. He reported the threats and fake explosives and weird behavior, and the police did essentially nothing. For once, this was not a case of “oh, if only someone had said something.” Maybe the law makes it difficult for police to act in cases like this, or maybe the police just didn’t take him (and others) seriously enough. I don’t know.

      It’s a tragedy that went this far, and that no one could help this man. I am just thankful that no one else was hurt.

      • yes, the law DOES make it difficult for SPD to do much. All you anti-cop folks can’t have it both ways.

        Now somebody tell me again WHY we have such shitty mental health care in this country?

    • My mind is white with shock and anger. Our hands were tied; everything wasn’t enough, and it should have been.

      From now on when I read a sentence in an article like “People who know the suspect say he had been exhibiting recent signs of mental illness and strange behavior”, I won’t take it at glib face value.

      I will know what it really means.

      That everyone around him tried everything the law would allow, for months. That his closest friends put themselves in danger to stay in physical contact with him, and spend time with him, in the hopes they could breach the delusional wall of his illness. That they made hard decisions to get him help, knowing they would incur his irrational anger and resentment, knowing it was a grave decision.

      That since the 1980s when the intended funding for treatment that was supposed to accompany massive deinstitutionalization was cut, we have been living in a country that allows friends and families no recourse, no treatment for the gravely mentally ill – eschewing financial responsibility for the treatment of ill citizens, and risking the safety of well ones, under the guise of protecting “individual rights”.

      That all we could do was wring our hands and beat our heads against the wall, watch the escalation and the decline, and wait for the inevitable.

      And next time I read a sentence in an article like “One resident of the building said the gunman had posted a anti-Obama poster on his door, warning that the president would die if anyone entered the room” I will remember that mental illness can turn a gay, kind-hearted, shy, sweet liberal progressive into a raving second-amendment-clutching conspiracy theorist with religious delusions.

      That’s how powerful the enemy was. And we had no recourse. Our hands were tied.

      My heart is heavy, and goes out to those of you who were closer. You tried, you tried. I know how hard you tried.

      • Thank you for that insight, it was beautifully written and my heart is also heavy for all of those affected by this. To the friends and family of this man and to the police officers.

      • Well said. It’s disgraceful how this country has turned its back on its fellow-citizens with mental illness…which is what it is – an illness. We wouldn’t neglect the care of a diabetic or a cancer patient, would we? So why is illness of the mind any different? It makes no sense!

      • Well said! Bravo! An excellent statement, one that should be at the forefront of health care reform and the firearms discussion, regardless of which side you fall on in either.

        Ignoring mental illness and drowning people in “happy” pills without any serious understanding of the effects or consistent observations is a tragic way to treat those who need help.

        We can blame guns or we can call these people names, but in the end, will you feel the same when it is a friend, a family member, or you? These aren’t aliens or robots going crazy, they are human beings, just like you and I.

        Where do we draw the line and say we need to help people before we gun them down?

        A sad story … sadly … not an uncommon one anymore.

      • Nicolase, My heart goes out to you and to your friends. I am a rather distant relative of Joel’s. I am wondering if there is a way for us to connect–we would like to honor Joel here in the Twin Cities and I’d really like to hear from you.

    • He was committed twice in the past six months, and held for treatment and observation, but under law could not be forcibly medicated because he never harmed anyone or assaulted staff. Friends both close and casual maintained a private group on Facebook conferring on what was to be done for him. Every move he made was reported, and we were in constant contact with authorities, who told us there was nothing they could do, nothing they could do. We eventually were able to get him committed for the second time. It didn’t hold. He was released. He seemed to be doing better afterward, and then suddenly his mania started escalating. He was dealing with intravenous chemotherapy for blood cancer and there is no way to know how much that was a complicating factor, both in terms of how it interacted with his medication and how the stress affected his mental state.

      Our friend was someone who slipped through the cracks. Our friend was your friend, your relative, your loved one or you – but for one unfortunate turn of genetic roulette and the wrong, tragic circumstances.

      And no, everyone should not be allowed to own a gun. With sensible gun regulations, those of us who cared about him wouldn’t be mourning today.

      • I’m sorry for your loss of a friend, but you can take solace in the fact that you did everything possible to help him.

        I think that our state laws need to change, so that people like him are involuntarily committed to long-term mental health treatment, not just a few stop-gap days at Harborview. Otherwise, these incidents will continue to occur, with tragic results.

  19. Pingback: Friends mourn man who died in Denny Way standoff | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  20. Once again we see the usual assortment of geniuses making anti-cop (and other) pronouncements without the benefit of first-hand knowledge. Isn’t it interesting how often the real truth ends up being so totally different from what the know-it-alls assume when they mouth off?

  21. By 1:30 pm the police still had the area blocked off for a block in all directions. I went to the City Market and the police are still out there in force and didn’t want to let me back into the building.

  22. i love how having anti-obama sentiments and owning guns are portrayed as sure signs of mental illness. Not doubting that this guy was sick but come on! I must be nutty as squirrel shit.

    • You can’t be serious. A marked change in someone’s personality and death threats to the president (which any person in a rational state of mind would know is not a good idea) are signs that something is not right. And if something is not right, owning a gun can be dangerous for that person and possibly the people around them.

  23. “a police standoff with a man believed to be armed with a gun inside a Bellevue Ave E condo building came to an end some eight hours after the incident began.” ” Police say the man began shooting at SWAT units around 10:30 AM. SWAT returned fire, “…So which is it did he have a gun or not?

    • I reported this as it happened. At the time of the standoff, we didn’t have confirmation that he had a gun. Police have been clear since that he had a gun — and was using it.

  24. Thank you CHS for your thorough and continued coverage of this. If you aren’t a subscriber to Seattle Times and have had your allowed free articles, access to their coverage is denied. I was in Tulalip (for the 4th) following this and from your coverage i could determine when I could return home (I live a few bldgs away from the Marq

  25. Our deepest sympathy to family and friends of this mentally ill man who was murdered by Seattle police. Thanks also for the comments on the disgraceful, disgusting history on the lack of serious help for those with mental illness in this country. Pugel admitted today that SPD was well aware of the mental illness history of this this 28year old man. SPD escalated the situation. They were well protected and far way from the man, They had cleared out the whole building where the man lived. They should have kept a distance. There was no need to kill yet another mentally ill person. Please follow our facebook at October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality Seattle facebook. There is a national epidemic of killings by police and Washington state has an epidemic of its own including several killings from tasers. Our facebook has many details. Resistance matters, now more than ever we must act and say enough is enough!

    • Surely you can’t be serious, Cynthia! I’m actually offended by the ridiculousness of your post. The only thing this man was a victim of was mental illness. HE WAS NOT MURDERED BY SPD! The minute he pulled and fired a gun, he created a danger to the public that required a fatal response. I’m sick and tired of the pathetic attempts of people like you to exploit one man’s tragedy for your own anti-police agenda.

      This man is a victim of a health”care” system that ignores mental illness and my heart goes out to his family and friends.

      Take a bit and check out the public posts on his Facebook page. The link is on the local station’s user comments. I will agree that what you can see is mental illness spiraling out of control. The same illness his friends have touched on in their posts.

    • Pretty disrespectful to push your political agenda here. What do you think SPD should have done? Were you there?

      • SPD negotiated with Joel for eight hours, and did everything possible to prevent the end result. I think this was a classic “suicide by cop”. Joel wrote that he welcomed death and he got his wish. He kept the neighborhood in lock down for hours while the police tried to protect the public. I’m sorry it ended the way it did, and I feel for his family and friends. I also feel for the SPD officer that had to use lethal force to protect the public. It was a no win situation.

  26. It would have made a difference if hundreds or thousands of us had lined the corner of Denny and Bellevue and chanted for the police not to kill Joel Rueter, the police were well protected and not in danger. The Seattle police killed two other mentally ill people in less than a year, Henry Lee Sr and Jack Sun Keewatinawin. The epidemic of police brutality is a nationwide problem. It would great of millions of people had as their “agenda”fighting to end police brutality. Check out October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality Seattle Facebook page for ongoing postings on police brutality nationwide and how people can get involved in a movement of massive resistance.

    • This is NOT an example of “police brutality.” Joel was discharging his gun inside his apartment, brandishing a gun on his balcony, and shooting at the police. Using this tragic case to further your political, anti-police agenda is just wrong, and in fact you undermine any real concerns about excessive use of force on the part of the SPD.

      It’s entirely possible that Joel might have killed an innocent civilian with his gun….if the police had not intervened….What would you say then?

      • Cynthia can say anything she wants, but it doesn’t change the facts of the situation. Anti police factions, in fact, had plenty of time to get near the scene to protest, but they didn’t. They can beat their chests and posture all they want now the fact is they didn’t show up. Nuf said!!!

    • People disagree, Paul on Bellevue. I think you need to allow for that and stop trying to police this thread into an echo chamber where everyone agrees with you.

      • I agree with Paul…no matter what happened Cynthia would pound the same tired old drum. The whole situation sucks. The Officers seemingly did their job. Someone called and said someone is firing a gun inside of an apartment building in a very dense part of the city. They spent hours and hours trying to resolve it. This juvenile fantasy that these things shouldn’t happen is naive. The whole damn thing sucks but dies happen, it happens nationwide. Somehow people think that cops can show up and successfully do what doctors and other medical professionals have failed to do over the course of years….except people have the idea they can do it in seconds or minutes. Just not true. They are the last resort in scenarios like this, and it seems the job got done.

        • Seems to me that the disturbance was escalated to a standoff by the cops because he wouldn’t… do what, exactly? Come out of his apartment? Let the police in? Why should he have to let them in or present himself to the cops in the first place.

          It looks to me that he flouted their authority, which SPD cannot abide so they basically stirred up trouble with a guy with known mental problems. Maybe if SPD just walked away this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

          • mainly because he’s firing a handgun in an apartment building. You cant walk away from that, it was also reported he was walking up and down the halls with a weapon…and another resident called…walk away…sure.

          • I’m a grad student studying criminal law, I feel qualified to explain this. It is illegal to discharge a weapon inside of ones apartment. It was reported by neighbors that he shot 5 times inside of his apartment. Additionally, when one walks around their apartment building carrying a weapon, anyone has the right to call the cops – and the cops have full right under the law to have a chat with someone carrying their gun outside of their apartment if it not concealed.

            Doing either of these things allows the cops to come into your apartment. It appears he was already ‘stir[ed]‘ up when before they were called. Once they realized who he was, and that there were 2 court orders preventing him from owning a gun, they must take him into custody to understand where/how he acquired a gun.

            Everything the police did was according to the law. It would have been absolutely negligent for a police department to ignore reports of gunfire inside of an apartment.

            The SPD has done some terrible things in the past – but let’s not jump to conclusions about this. In this case, they did everything they were supposed to do.

          • safe your conspiracy theory, troll, er traj. You’re as bad as Cynthia. The police were absolutely in the right and nothing you can say will change that.

      • Traj, I realize that people have the right to disagree. It’s when they use a tragedy like this to push their political agenda that I take exception to their actions and call them out on it. I can’t prevent Cynthia from posting here – it’s not my right – but I can call her out on her treating this sad event as a political football. Which I will continue to do. Have a great day. I’m also guessing you didn’t live right next door to this event – perhaps if you had you’d be singing a different tune. Who knows.

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