A man who helped talk an Army veteran out of a mobile home surrounded by Lakewood police last week disputes parts of the account of the incident as reported by authorities.
Nicholas Boullester is the ex-husband of Thomas Oyen’s girlfriend and served with Oyen in the Army.
Boullester said he went to a mobile home in the 6500 block of 146th Street Southwest on July 8 after his ex-wife called to say she and Oyen had been arguing and she wanted to leave.
Pierce County prosecutors allege Oyen, 28, fired five or six shots at officers dispatched to investigate a disturbance early that day. One officer at the scene “described the shots as having been aimed in the direction of the officers because he heard bullets whiz past,” according to court records.
Oyen is charged with one count of first-degree assault. He’s pleaded not guilty and is jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Boullester said he was outside with his ex-wife when Oyen began firing a handgun inside the mobile home. Most of the shooting was finished before police arrived, Boullester said.
“There was maybe one shot fired after police arrived,” Boullester told The News Tribune. “He didn’t even know they were there.”
Once Oyen realized police were outside, he asked Boullester, to whom he was talking on a cellphone, to send them in, that he was ready for them, Boullester said, adding it was clear to him Oyen wanted to commit what’s called “suicide by cop.”
Police later found multiple bullet holes in the walls of the mobile home, court records show.
Oyen eventually came out and threw down his gun, the records state, but refused to comply with further instructions and was shot with less-than-lethal shotgun rounds by police.
Police credited Boullester with convincing Oyen to come out.
“I just told him to think about your kids,” Boullester said. “Everybody’s got problems. This is not the way to solve them.”
He also disputed a police assertion that Oyen told him he “shot at the pigs outside” on account of his girlfriend, Cheryl Boullester. An officer monitoring Nicholas Boullester’s call with Oyen reportedly heard the defendant say words to that effect, court records show.
“He never said that,” Nicholas Boullester said. “He actually told her he was done with her and wanted her to leave.”
Lakewood police spokesman Chris Lawler declined to address Nicholas Boullester’s claims.
Cheryl Boullester said her boyfriend of two years is the father of five children, including a daughter with her. The rest of his children live with their mother in Utah, she said.
She said Oyen served multiple combat tours over the last decade. He was wounded several times and still suffers the effects, both mentally and physically, she said.
“He is in pain,” she said. “That’s the only thing he remembers on a day-to-day basis.”
Efforts to obtain Oyen’s complete military service record last week were unsuccessful, but a spokeswoman for the Warrior Transition Battalion at Madigan Army Medical Center said Oyen was assigned to the unit last year and discharged in November.
The battalion helps wounded soldiers recover from their injuries and prepare to either return to service or enter civilian life, according to its website.
Oyen’s family sought help from Rebuild Hope in November 2008. The organization helps collect money for the families of wounded soldiers, according to its website.
A page posted on the website reported that Oyen suffered severe hand and shoulder injuries in a roadside bomb attack and also suffered from “severe combat stress” and a traumatic brain injury.
Cheryl Boullester said Oyen has had difficultly obtaining benefits from the Army and the Veterans Administration, including drugs to treat his mental illness, and learned on July 1 that a check he’d been expecting was not coming through.
She said she and Oyen couldn’t pay their rent or buy food or diapers for their baby, and the stress got to him.
“He wanted to die, yes,” Cheryl Boullester said. “He said his kids would be better off without him.”Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644