The man who fatally shot a Tacoma police officer in December used his two children as human shields during the standoff that followed, and he lied to negotiators about surrendering.
Bruce Johnson II was walking toward an upstairs bedroom window where he could have seen a Pierce County sheriff’s SWAT team changing positions below when Deputy Bob Shaw, a sniper, fired a single round from his rifle.
The round went through a window and hit Johnson in the head. Johnson, 38, was pronounced dead inside the East Side home, ending a nearly 11-hour standoff that started when he shot and killed Officer Jake Gutierrez.
On Friday, Prosecutor Mark Lindquist ruled Shaw was justified in shooting Johnson in the early morning hours of Dec. 1.
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“The lives of two young children were saved by law enforcement officers from the Tacoma Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department who worked collaboratively,” Lindquist said in a statement, adding that Shaw shooting Johnson “prevented further loss of life.”
New details about dealings with Johnson that night were released along with Lindquist’s finding.
Police said Johnson fired several rounds at a police SWAT team through walls and accepted an offer for negotiators to give him and his children Gatorade.
His 8-year-old son served as the go-between.
Johnson told negotiators several times that he would surrender but never did. Instead, he walked into a rear bedroom.
When Johnson’s son stepped out of the bedroom a second time, police rescued him. Then Shaw shot Johnson through the window and the SWAT team rushed in to find he’d toppled over on his 6-year-old daughter.
“The daughter later told investigators her father was holding her in front of him by her shoulder when he was shot and that her father was holding a gun at the time,” according to the Prosecutor’s Office.
It’s still unclear what set off Johnson, though he’d exhibited bizarre behavior in the weeks leading up to the shooting.
Animal control officers were near his home that day, tending to an injured dog, when they spotted Johnson’s wife. She was crying and upset because her husband had locked her out of the house.
Police called the landlord for her spare keys, which they used when Johnson refused to open the front door.
Gutierrez called out to Johnson that he wanted to talk and walked up the stairs. When he stepped onto the second-floor landing, Gutierrez was cut down by a barrage of bullets.
His partner, Johnson’s wife and the landlord were able to get out of the home while Gutierrez’s partner called for backup.
Throughout the night, more than 184 law enforcement officers responded to the scene.
Gutierrez, 45, was a 17-year veteran of the department. He is survived by three daughters, a granddaughter, his fiancée and a large extended family.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653