A Pierce County man, his 9-year-old son at his side, shot and killed two men who apparently were trying to steal marijuana from what sheriffs deputies called an illegal pot-growing operation inside the mans garage Thursday.
The man and boy were not hurt in what sheriffs spokesman Ed Troyer described as a gunfight during which both sides fired multiple rounds.
We could have had a dead 9-year-old and a dead homeowner, Troyer said.
The boys backpack, multiple weapons and marijuana were strewn throughout the garage and on the driveway outside the house when deputies arrived, Troyer said.
The 35-year-old man was taken in for questioning following the incident, which began about 8 a.m. in the 5900 block of 132nd Street East, which is in an unincorporated area southwest of Puyallup.
Detectives and evidence technicians descended on the home mid-morning as a news helicopter hovered over the scene.
Troyer said the results of the investigation would be forwarded to prosecutors for a charging decision. Even if the man is not charged in the shooting, he likely would face prosecution for illegally growing marijuana, Troyer said.
The amounts hes growing far exceed whats legal for medical marijuana, he said.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist on Thursday could not speak specifically about the Summit shooting as the investigation was still unfolding, but he said homeowners in Washington have a right to defend themselves and their families even if its from robbers intent on stealing their illegal drugs.
People have a right to use deadly force in Washington if they reasonably believe they or someone else is in imminent danger of great personal injury or death, Lindquist said.
It may be stupid and reckless to have an illegal grow operation in the house, but it does not waive your lawful right to self-defense, he said. Weve had cases where we did not prosecute someone for the shooting but did prosecute for the illegal drugs.
The homeowner called 911 about 8 a.m. to report there had been a shooting at his home.
Deputies arrived to find two men dead in a three-car garage attached to the home. The dead men were wearing masks and carrying backpacks and handguns, Troyer said.
This was not a random robbery, he said. We believe the people were here to target this house because they were illegally growing a large quantity of marijuana. This is a cultivating operation that somebody came and tried to take away from the homeowner.
The homeowner and his son apparently surprised the men in the garage and a gunfight broke out, Troyer said.
Deputies found the would-be robbers dead in the garage along with what appeared to be a large marijuana-growing opertation.
The shooting occurred on the day state law changed to allow people legally to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.
This grow operation was illegal yesterday and we believe that it is illegal today under the states new law, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said. We can expect that illegal and sometimes violent activities will continue to accompany the production of marijuana even with the new law.
Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644