West Seattle Crime Watch: Plea bargain for Alki man shot by police

(9/3/2010 photo of the 61st/Admiral shooting scene by Christopher Boffoli, for WSB)
Just discovered this in a routine followup check of crime cases we’ve been watching: Thomas Qualls, the 59-year-old Alki man shot by police back in September after pointing an assault rifle at officers, has struck a plea bargain. Last Friday, according to court documents, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted assault with use of a firearm (he originally faced three counts of second-degree assault with firearm enhancement). His statement in court documents:

… I took a substantial step toward intentionally placing (three Seattle Police officers) in immediate and reasonable fear of an assault with a deadly weapon when I came out of my home with a rifle and the rifle was lowered in the direction of (the three officers).

According to the original police narrative about the incident (transcribed in this WSB report), officers went to the home after a 911 call from a family member worried he had made suicidal statements. That narrative also said Qualls fired his rifle, though that is not reflected in his plea statement. He was shot in the abdomen and spent less than a week in the hospital.

Prosecutors will recommend a 2-year sentence (note that Qualls already has been in jail for seven months), which is the high end of the range – 6 months for attempted second-degree assault, plus 18 months for the firearm enhancement. He had no known criminal history. Shortly after the incident, police released this photo of the rifle they say Qualls pointed at the officers:

Their investigation reported that was one of three guns they found at the scene. Qualls’ sentencing is set for April 22nd.

5 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Plea bargain for Alki man shot by police"

  • nulu April 13, 2011 (8:11 am)

    It is truly sad when a sick man whose sickness caused him to attempt ‘suicide by cops’ gets prosecuted and sentence to years in prison, when what he likely needs is psychiatric care.

    It is truly horrific when police officers are forced to respond to a sick man by shooting him.

    It is truly horrific that our society allows these things to devastate all lives connected.

    But the most crazy aspect of all of these tragedies is that our society allows and embraces the proliferation of guns – at a cost and burden like no other civilized society.

  • DP April 13, 2011 (10:50 am)

    A two-year prison term for Mr. Qualls will not help him or society. What he really needs is medical treatment for his anger issues, depression, or whatever it was that made him threaten his family and police last September. He also needs to be kept away from deadly weapons. Permanently.
    Instead of prison, he should have been given the option of monitored home release along with some long-term mandatory psychotherapy. (On the other hand, perhaps he was given that option and refused it.)

  • t ce April 13, 2011 (11:53 am)

    THE COMMENT BY dp ABOVE POINTS OUT A COMMON MISCONCEPTION. there can be no mandatory psychotherapy. If the person is not engaged, and typically court mandated therapy means the person is less than engaged, then the therapy cannot have any useful outcome.
    but psychotherapy is indeed the correct approach, and I agree with DP on that!

  • M April 13, 2011 (12:54 pm)

    I agree. This guy has no criminal background. As we age all of us are going to get a little less sane.

    I love to laugh at all those who want to lock everyone up – then complain about building a prison in West Seattle.

  • Allen April 28, 2011 (7:55 am)

    It is true that we the people are not addressing the needs of mentally ill folk. Many live under freeway overpasses but this fellow lived in a home in West Seattle. Who knows why he became so angry? He had a military style semi automatic rifle. I am sad and surprised that he got off so easy. He is nothing more than an animal!

    Because of people like this I will certainly keep a weapon or two to protect myself and my family and I will argue intensely against any attempts to restrict my right to own a gun. I don’t mean a machine gun…

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