Crime

Tacoma police shoot at mental patient who allegedly assaulted staff members, tried to run over officers

A patient living at an apartment building for mentally ill people assaulted three staff members Friday before carjacking a woman in Tacoma’s Stadium District and then trying to run down two police officers, prompting one to shoot at him, police said.

Neither the patient nor the officers were hurt. But three workers at the Comprehensive Life Resources facility in the 600 block of South Yakima Avenue were hurt, with one suffering severe eye injuries that required surgery.

The man had been staying for a few days at the Yakima Avenue facility, which provides short-term housing for people who need mental health resources, said Ghasem Nahvipour, president and CEO of Comprehensive Life Resources.

There was no indication Friday morning that anything was amiss at the facility, Nahvipour said. That changed about 10:25 a.m. when the man, who’s in his 30s, lost control of himself and began assaulting a staff member, police said.

“He then went outside and damaged the building by throwing huge rocks and assaulted staff trying to intervene,” police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.

Next, the man yanked a woman driving a Ford Taurus out of the car and sped away, police said

Nine minutes later, two officers responding to an unrelated call at North Fourth Street and North Yakima Avenue radioed dispatchers to report nearly being run over by a white Ford Taurus.

One of the officers, fearing for his life, fired an unknown number of shots at the fleeing vehicle. The man who was driving was not hit.

The description of the driver matched the description of the mental patient who attacked staff members, police said.

Officers followed the Taurus onto northbound Interstate 705, but the man began driving the wrong way into oncoming traffic. Officers eventually lost sight of him and notified surrounding agencies.

Pierce County sheriff’s deputies later spotted the car on Mountain Highway and took the driver into custody. He was expected to be booked into the Pierce County Jail for investigation of numerous charges.

The officer who fired his weapon was placed on leave, pending an investigation, which is standard procedure, Cool said. He is 48 and has 24 years on the force.

The building where the action began is a 90-bed residential facility for the mentally ill. Nahvipour said the building houses as many as 80 people at any one time.

On Friday morning, it was likely that 15 staff members were on site, providing services ranging from nursing care to counseling, he said.

The company called in extra staff members to provide support to colleagues and patients who were traumatized by the event, Nahvipour said.

Staff writer Adam Lynn contributed to this report.

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