We’ve been checking daily to see if the Medical Examiner had officially identified the man found dead in a house at 42nd/Findlay last Friday after it erupted in flames while King County Sheriff’s Office SWAT officers were trying to serve an eviction notice (WSB coverage here). This afternoon, an update from KCSO answers multiple questions in the case:
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the deceased as David M. Severtson, 51 and determined his death to be suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Members of Tac-30, a Hostage Negotiator, and a Mental Health Professional spent considerable time attempting to establish contact with Severtson while outside the home on the morning of May 11, 2018.
When Severtson did not respond to multiple requests to exit voluntarily, a Tac-30 team approached the front door and noted that flames were spreading rapidly inside the home. No shots were fired by KCSO personnel.
A Seattle Fire Department investigator concluded Severtson started the fire, using gasoline, near the front door.
After the fire was out, and when it was safe for Tac-30 and KCSO Major Crimes detectives to enter the house, they discovered loaded rifles propped near several windows of the home. There were also numerous rounds of ammunition of various calibers. In all, nearly 20 rifles, ranging in caliber from .22 to .308, were recovered.
KCSO was aware of the possibility that a number of guns were inside the home, which factored in to the decision that Tac-30 (SWAT) would assist the KCSO Civil Detectives with the eviction. The operation followed repeated attempts, since January 2018, to reach Severtson about the court’s eviction order. Letters were sent to the home, notices were posted at the home, and Detectives made several personal visits. Severtson failed to respond to any of the attempts to reach him.
Severtson’s mother had owned the house until her death three years ago. Her estate originally filed the eviction action more than a year before the officers showed up Friday to serve it.