It was a day that rattled the nerves of Puyallup residents from South Hill down into the Valley.
On Aug. 11, 911 phone calls of an active shooter began pouring into police dispatch. Ultimately, 71-year-old Richard Johnson was allegedly shot dead after he tried to apprehend Nathen Terault of Tacoma during a car prowl.
Nearly a month later, Puyallup police are still trying to pick up the pieces and assemble the puzzle that is the investigation of the case.
“We will be investigating this case into the future,” said Capt. Scott Engle. “We’re preparing as if it’s going to trial. We’re making sure reports are in and interviews are completed. It will continue for several months.”
The department still doesn’t know, and may never know, why Terault was allegedly shooting at people throughout town, Engle said.
While Aug. 11 rattled many nerves through out town, the department is receiving many accolades from the community for working diligently to stop the shooter.
“Four of our officers were shot at,” Engle said. “Our officers are getting recognized, and know that the community is supporting them.”
The officers who were shot at were placed on administrative leave, per protocol, to spend time with their loved ones and receive counseling if needed. The four officers have since returned from administrative leave.
Officers have received thank you cards, treats, drawings from local kids, and many simple thank you’s from community members.
The Aug. 11 incident marked the first time the Puyallup Police Department had an active shooter situation on its hands, and handled it with ease, Engle said.
“Our officers were done within eight minutes of the call,” he said. “Our officers did exactly as they were trained. As soon as the call came in, officers were there. Everybody who had a gun and a badge was up and out of here. Our surrounding agencies (in) Bonney Lake, Sumner, Fife, (the) Washington State Patrol — they all had people here. They knew and came right off the bat. We are grateful that they were there, just as we would have been for them.”
Officers acted exactly as they had been trained to deal with an active shooter, Engle said.
The crime was so far out of the norm of what people think of Puyallup, and has since impacted how many citizens think of their safety and security.
“It caused us to say, ‘Oh my goodness, this hit close to home,’” Engle said, as many of his fellow officers live in Puyallup.