Crime

Motive still unknown in McKenna homicide-suicide

Two men died by gunfire Wednesday inside a McKenna chiropractic office in an apparent homicide-suicide, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
Two men died by gunfire Wednesday inside a McKenna chiropractic office in an apparent homicide-suicide, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. Courtesy

Investigators on Thursday remained unsure why Robert “Bert” Knapp stormed into a McKenna chiropractic office where his wife worked and killed a doctor before turning the gun on himself.

The 35-year-old Roy man was a patient at McKenna Chiropractic Center. His wife was the receptionist there.

She arrived at the office moments after Pierce County sheriff’s detectives say Knapp fatally shot Dr. Robert Sowers and then killed himself with a shotgun.

A massage therapist inside the office at the time of the confrontation was not hurt.

People who knew Knapp said Thursday they couldn’t believe such a good-humored, friendly man was capable of killing someone.

“We’re in shock because this is not the kind of guy you’d think would do these types of things,” said Rick Block, general manager at Prosser Piano & Organ Co. in Tacoma.

Knapp worked for nearly 16 years as the head driver and piano mover.

“It’s unfathomable,” Block said. “Our hearts are broken.”

Knapp went to work the day before the shooting and showed no signs of distress or unhappiness, Block said. His co-workers said he came in with a smile and clocked out with a smile.

Knapp’s wife could not be reached for comment.

It’s unclear whether she arrived at the center Wednesday for work or because she knew her husband was there. The shooting took place about 8:20 a.m., shortly before the office opened at 8:30 a.m.

Sowers, 46, of Yelm, was killed.

He ran the center for more than 21 years and volunteered as a 4-H shooting instructor at Upper Nisqually Sportsmen Club in Eatonville.

He reportedly was married and had two children.

His family, which gathered outside the office after the shooting, declined to speak with reporters.

Neighboring business owners spoke fondly of Sowers, describing him as kind and devoted.

Makenzie Good, the 4-H coordinator, said the entire club was saddened by his death.

“Bob was a great 4-H volunteer who gave countless hours working with 4-H youth and volunteers,” she said. “He had such a positive impact on so many youth. Our condolences go out to his family and the many people he had such a positive impact on.”

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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