Alki shooting followup: Still a mystery

One night after Seattle Police shot a 59-year-old Alki man who they say pointed an AK-47 at officers, what sparked the incident (here’s our running coverage from last night) remains a mystery. SPD has not updated its public information about the case since this morning, when they reported the man to be in stable condition; tonight our partners at the Seattle Times have published a followup after talking to neighbors and relatives. The man is described as a heart-attack survivor, gardener, music lover, jewelry artist, and retired Metro bus driver, who’s still at Harborview Medical Center tonight. While they have published a name, we do not have direct official confirmation, so we’re not using it here, but that is the same name we heard from a source, as mentioned in our 1st story, where we noted that online records indicate no criminal history. (Our photo is from this morning, when a single police car remained in the alley next to the house, which remained cordoned off at the time, while TV news crews stood along the street nearby for morning reports.)

44 Replies to "Alki shooting followup: Still a mystery"

  • ws September 4, 2010 (9:35 pm)

    do we know any of the involved officer’s names?

  • JM September 4, 2010 (9:37 pm)

    Sorry to nitpick, but I live in the neighborhood and I believe that police car in the photo is parked east of the house, not west. My understanding is that the house in the picture is in fact the house in question. I’m open to correction, though.

    • WSB September 4, 2010 (9:38 pm)

      Sorry, JM. My co-publisher took the photo and I realize I made an assumption about where the house is on the street without asking him – consulting a map, it’s on the north side of the street, and therefore your correction is correct – TR

  • Greg September 5, 2010 (9:47 am)

    I am curious about the police’s statements to media. Did this person really have a full-auto AK-47 or was it a semi-auto AK look alike? This may sound like nitpicking, but it would tell your readers more about the man involved. If true he would be federally licensed to posess such a rifle. People with these kind of licenses are almost never involved in these kind of incidents, making it much more significant. If the AK-47 were not legal, that implies that a different more dangerous person was involved. If the SPD misidentified the weapon used in a police shooting that speaks to their professionalism. If the WSB misidentified the weapon it speaks to yours.

  • Fritz September 5, 2010 (10:47 am)

    Relax Greg…

    It doesn’t matter. It was a gun and it was pointed at officers!

    What more do you need? An accurate description is useless to me. Maybe it was an SKS or a mac 90 or a Kalishnikov or a Bushmaster. Who cares! He pointed it and had already shot it.

    WSB, Keep up the great work. I find your reporting superb!

  • Valerie September 5, 2010 (11:43 am)

    @Greg, I refer you to the first sentence above: “One night after Seattle Police shot a 59-year-old Alki man who they say pointed an AK-47 at officers…” (emphasis mine) TR et al are reporting the facts as they obtain them, not making determinations themselves.

    @Fritz, absolutely – enough said.

    Thanks as always, WSB!

    • WSB September 5, 2010 (12:26 pm)

      Listening again to Deputy Chief Metz’s 5-minute briefing, which we included in our first story in its entirety (unedited video, from the time he introduced himself to the time he thanked everyone and concluded), he first described the gun as “what appeared to be an assault rifle” and then ‘we did take from him what officers said was an AK-47 assault rifle.” You can listen for yourself. That’s why we attribute, though – police “say” or “said” – obviously we weren’t there to witness events firsthand and so cannot state anything as a fact except for the FACT that police said/say whatever they said/say – TR

  • westsidenettie September 5, 2010 (1:58 pm)

    F’N Seattle police are acting like they are New Orleans police or LA. I will not give them my trust anymore!!!!!!!

  • Susan September 5, 2010 (2:31 pm)

    Any information on the people who might have been in the house, as reports indicated that there was someone (a woman) talking on the phone.

    • WSB September 5, 2010 (4:48 pm)

      Susan, there hasn’t been anything on that since the deputy chief said that night they had no info on that person’s whereabouts. The full police report is not yet available online.

  • Greg September 5, 2010 (4:17 pm)

    From everything I have read or heard about this tragedy, it does not appear that the SPD did anything wrong. That being said, it seems to me like the SPD is trying to sensationalize this shooting by invoking the evil “AK-47/Assult Rifle” bogeyman, which is disingenuous.

  • DP September 5, 2010 (4:22 pm)

    This guy (Thomas Qualis) is quite the mystery. By some accounts he’s a sweet man who loves folk music and does nice things for the neighbors. By other accounts, he’s got firearms and occasionally points them at himself and the police.
    I’m no shrink, but this guy sounds like a split personality.

  • A friend September 5, 2010 (5:17 pm)

    If anybody hears more about this please update. I know these people, and I’m very concerned.

  • Anonymous September 5, 2010 (6:10 pm)

    There was no one else inside the house when this happened. The other family members are fine, just trying to deal with a very public situation privately.

  • JanS September 5, 2010 (7:30 pm)

    Greg…it is what it is..please don’t read anything more into it. Disingenuous? No…they are not playing that up. It is simply a fact. But I can see that you’re bound and determined to make something more of it.

    DP..don’t speculate. It adds nothing. You’re right…you’re no shrink.

  • Susan September 5, 2010 (7:32 pm)

    Thanks to Anonymous; I’m glad to hear the family is safe.

  • Anonymous September 5, 2010 (7:59 pm)

    You’re welcome Susan! As anyone can imagine this is hard on everyone involved and those of us that know and care about them.

  • DP September 5, 2010 (9:16 pm)

    JanS: Cut the self-righteous act. This guy is being billed as a gentle, peace-loving soul. Anyone who acquires an AK-47 ahead of time and insists on teaching his kids how to shoot is no hippie. That’s all I’m saying.

  • C September 5, 2010 (10:51 pm)

    I’m glad that the family is safe.

  • umolly September 5, 2010 (11:22 pm)

    Who were the officers who fired on the suspect?

  • JanS September 6, 2010 (12:09 am)

    DP. I don’t mean to offend, or be rude, or start something on here. But your armchair quarterbacking is simply not warranted on a comment page where family of this man may be coming. It’s insensitive. We do not know the circumstances surrounding this man’s life. Yes, I’m alarmed when any citizen acquires an AK-47…there is no purpose to them except to kill people. It’s not for protection , and it’s not for hunting, for sure.

    This man, according to records, has no criminal past, has been a good citizen up until now. He has been friends with people I know. He has been a resident of WS for decades, I believe went to WS Highschool. Maybe, just maybe we should wait until all the information comes about about why this sad thing has happened to him, and his neighborhood.

    Peace, David..

  • Greg September 6, 2010 (8:39 am)

    It is already happening…in this thread. Mr Qualis did NOT have an AK-47 unless he brought it back from Vietnam or Iraq OR smuggled it past customs, which seems extremely unlikely. You can’t get one in the USA. Most likely it was something that looked similar with a wooden stock and a curved banana magazine. When the SPD took custody of this weapon they unloaded it, bagged it up and put it in an evidence room somewhere so they know it is NOT an AK-47. When officer Metz gets up in front of the cameras and says “AK-47” he is intentionally lying. He prefaces his statement with a “this info is preliminary” disclaimer so he can say this without any legal repercussions. Why would he do this? If he were to say the weapon was a Mac 90 or SKS most people would have no idea what that is. Everyone knows what an AK-47 is. Many people, like JanS above, already have this very negative perception about anyone who would posess such a rifle and the police and the DA know this. Everyone watching the SPD press conference is a potential juror and if there is ever a whiff of impropriety by the SPD with this shooting, public opinion has already been tainted with misinformation. Sadly, this tactic is pretty common and effective, but it undermines my trust in law enforecement.

  • warren s September 6, 2010 (9:20 am)

    Having always been anti gun, it seems seattle pd is out of control. When will we demand that this ends? Think we should put pressure on our mayor to create a real investigative division totally seperate from police. LA and New York, far larger and more dangerous cities have had far fewer deaths by police officer shooting. We need to wake up and put an end to this. They are to “serve and protect” not “seek and destroy”. Think there need to be a change

  • Fritz September 6, 2010 (10:36 am)

    Wake up Warren… He pointed a gun at the police… How does that equate to SPD doing anything wrong? Just because you are anti-gun doesn’t mean every time the police encounter an armed suspect it is police misconduct.

    Greg, I found brand new AK 47s for sale on line… What now?

  • NotThatGuy September 6, 2010 (11:22 am)

    Where do people get their facts? You can’t buy an AK-47 in the US? Can you show anyone a “real” law or statute that says this? I am certain, but not positive of the facts, that you can not purchase or legally own an AUTOMATIC weapon. In Oregon, you can purchase the weapon and separately purchase the kit to make it automatic. Check into that before you spew anything more about how they are illegal, k?
    Hey Fritz… take it easy with your last sentence/questions. You are being the aggressive one and there really wasn’t a need for it. Also, you are listening to the SPD when stating this guy pointed a gun at them. You were not there and you do not know that for a fact, now do you?
    I have to say I am with JanS on this one. Until we hear what this guy’s side is – just stop with the made-up-decisions that he was guilty before he even faces a judge. His day is coming and I for one, look forward to hearing his side. The Native American woodcarver can’t tell his side. Five bullets from SPD ten feet away made sure of that.
    I am willing to bet right now that somehow, some day, Mr. AK-47 is going to be very rich for taking on a bullet or two – and not because he wanted to – but because the police decided to blast him full of bullets first. Oh, and this all happened on his property.

  • Joe Citizen September 6, 2010 (11:47 am)

    I don’t care if he pointed a BB gun at someone, you do that you get shot, period, end of story!

    Its not the police that are “out of control” its crazy people acting violently, criminally and carrying weapons openly and defiantly. If its not the cops that stop you it might be Joe citizen that does – I have a CC permit and carry so please consider that before taking any thuggery action.

    Wake up to the real world West side, this aint Kansas any more.

  • NotThatGuy September 6, 2010 (12:10 pm)

    He wasn’t carrying the weapon illegally. He has a permit. As for what happens next, well, we will see over the next year or so. Like I said, I am willing to bet there are lawyers lining up to take his side, and next year, you will be thinking, “Man… that guy on the WSB was right! I just can’t believe how this turned out. That guy got millions even though “they” said he pointed that gun at them. This sure ain’t Kansas any more.”
    (See how I used your oh-so-poignant words in a little twist?)

  • Fritz September 6, 2010 (3:49 pm)

    NTG, Did you check out the link to the new AK 47s? Automatic or not they are available. Look on Youtube. Multiple folks shooting them on there too. It doesn’t have to be automatic to be an AK47…
    It doesn’t matter is he was carrying it legally or not. He pointed it at the police.
    Are you saying that the police made up the whole 911 call and the shots fired and the actions of this guy randomly? Really? I would take your bet in a second…

  • Babs September 7, 2010 (7:55 am)

    Why no updates on this? WSB and SPD are being awfully hush-hush about this incident. Could a cover-up of some nature be in the works?

    • WSB September 7, 2010 (8:58 am)

      Cover-up? What was’in the works’ was a holiday weekend with police spokespeople unavailable, except in case of emergency, which for better, worse, or otherwise, was SOP for every government agency with which we deal. The media unit, which is handling information on the incident, is back open for business this morning and they are my next call before we go off to an unrelated story – TR
      (added post-phone call) We will write a separate on this when we come back from the pending unrelated story. (A) The suspect is still alive. (B) A briefing, likely in the early afternoon, may result in more information being released.

  • An Observer September 7, 2010 (8:52 am)

    Actually, we’re assuming that the information given out by the police regarding the events prior to the shooting was completely correct. I’d say until there is another official release of information one shouldn’t assume anything based upon preliminaries.

    Yes, pointing a weapon at police is ill-advised, however, aren’t there rules for escalation in such situations for police officers. Pointing a gun and shooting a gun are not the same. I don’t remember hearing at any point, it being said that this man was told to drop his weapon or given the chance to do so. I may not agree with this man’s behavior. His actions put him into harm’s way. However, I also believe that I want the people protecting and serving on my account to have the ability to at least attempt a peaceful resolution before firing but as I mentioned earlier, this is also based upon preliminary information. Of course, all this is my humble opinion, which I’m entitled to as is everyone else who posts here.

  • Worried September 7, 2010 (9:22 am)

    1) I am relieved to hear the rest of the family members are ok; I’ve known this family for over 20 years, and I am stunned by this turn of events.

    2) I assume SPD are some of the best-trained people in our city in handling firearms, and I am glad to see that in this situation, the officer or officers were able to use non-lethal force to disarm the individual. If only the same could have been done in what appeared to be a less-threatening situation at Boren & Howell last week.

  • Fritz September 7, 2010 (9:46 am)

    An Observer,
    The rules of escalation are: if someone points a gun at you they get shot.. Pointing a gun is plenty for an officer to shoot someone. They don’t even have to point it if you want to know the truth. It takes less time for the shooter to shoot than it does for the officer to decide to fire so the advantage is always with the shooter.

    I suggest that you do this simple test: Hold your finger up in the air like it is a gun poited at the sky. Have someone point there finger at you like they have a gun pointed at you. Now go ahead and pretend to shoot the other person and see how many times they can say “bang” or “pop” before you do.

    It may change your view on the escalation theory you have

  • anom. September 7, 2010 (11:53 am)

    @ WORRIED: YES! You assume.

    What part of spraying over 15 bullets at the homeowner do you consider “non-lethal”?

  • JanS September 7, 2010 (1:57 pm)

    anom….I don’t get it…how do you know how many shots were fired? Were you present when it happened? No, you weren’t. You speculate. Unless you were there, one has no idea what was said, or what happened to cause the SPD to take the action they did.

  • HolyKow September 7, 2010 (3:11 pm)

    Actually, Fritz…it does matter…matters alot if you are BATFE…one is a legal weapon for a person to own (semi autos are AK47s, just one bullet per trigger pull, not the spray and pray full auto…identical in every other respect other than trigger group).

    One will get you a felony for attempting to kill a cop (semi auto)

    One will get you a BIG felony from the Feds AND a felony for attempting to kill a cop…and a trip to ‘blank’ you in the ‘blank’ prision…

    so yes, it does matter…

    Further, I agree with you, Fritz, do your level best to not be near a cop when you have a gun…you will get shot. No “non/less than-lethal” options…walk toward a cop with any weapon, gun, knife, 2×4, even aggressive posture can be construed as a threat.

    When around cops, comply and act in a non-aggressive manner and you just might not get shot. Better to sue for civil right violations if they were wrong than to get killed and be dead….not much recourse there, eh?!


  • HolyKow September 7, 2010 (3:21 pm)

    @Greg is smoking weed….you can go to any of a dozen gun shops in the puget sound region and pick up an AK47 for under $1000.

    The willingness of some to just spout BS before actually looking it up is astonishing sometimes….


  • Annoyed September 7, 2010 (4:17 pm)

    JanS aren’t you speculating as well? You aren’t sure that anom wasn’t on scene or perhaps has first hand knowledge of the incident.

    What’s astonishing to me is that people keep saying if you have a gun the police can just shoot you. It doesn’t work like that. Police officers have rules of engagement just like the military. Yes, you should comply with orders given by police officers. Yes, if they’re threatened, they’ll shoot. It shouldn’t however be the first option. It’s about using minimum force. Deadly force should never be a first option.

    Also, why is it that people feel you have to be some extremist to own certain types of weapons? No, you can’t use it for hunting but does that mean a person can’t simply be a gun buff. Maybe even a war buff. As long as he owns it legally, it’s none of my business what weapons he owns.

  • Bob September 7, 2010 (4:44 pm)

    For the record and any one who wants to look this up and try to prove this fact wrong is welcome….the police can legally shoot you for pointing any fire arm at them. They do not have to wait to be shot at and if some is pointing a gun at them and they feel they don’t have time to say drop the gun or police, then they can still shoot the suspect. There is plenty of case law on this issue.

  • Annoyed September 7, 2010 (4:54 pm)

    It’s not about proving the fact is wrong. We all know they can do that. All you have to do is watch the news to see that..hence the whole yes they can shoot you if threatened. They can’t, however, just shoot you without just cause. Having a gun pointed at them, that I can see as just cause. I just get annoyed when people say simply having a gun in your possession is grounds to be shot with a police officer close by.

  • AnotherIdiotInWS September 7, 2010 (6:26 pm)

    Sometimes the police shoot you when they THINK it’s a gun. That works too, right Bob? Right Fritz?

  • Fritz September 8, 2010 (3:59 am)

    Idiot (for short)
    Would you shoot at someone who you think is pointing a gun at you? Try my teat I outlined for Observer above..

  • Fritz September 8, 2010 (7:16 am)

    make that “test”… =)

  • warren s September 8, 2010 (10:00 am)

    Here we have Fritz, an apologist for the SPD and seemingly low intellect. Over the weekend Bellevue PD had a similiar situation and used conversation and pepper spray / agents to subdue the despondent citizen. In that case the person was armed, a convicted felon with a lengthy record. There has been no police conviction or terminations for wrongdoing at SPD and if you think there are no bad apples in any org, go back to your tea party group and hope they take your f xyz benefits away. That is what your voting for – right !!!!!Right!!!!!!! I am sure by your tone you are living on benefits ! Easy to spot , low information, strong opinion, easily a follower to a stronger authority.

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