Update: Police briefing on West Seattle shootings; family statement

(Scroll down for statement from victims’ family, released by hospital this afternoon)

(Asst. Chief Jim Pugel’s remarks to the media from Seattle Police Headquarters)

2:02 PM: Police are now briefing the media on what they’ve learned about the shootings yesterday afternoon that left four people dead at a home on 14th SW in West Seattle. Here’s our original Thursday afternoon coverage.

BRIEFING NOTES, AS THEY HAPPEN: Police are circulating photos of the weapons they say were used. Here’s the 25 caliber handgun:

Here’s the 9 millimeter:

At least 20 rounds were fired inside the house, Assistant Chief Jim Pugel says. They are trying to figure out “the source” of the guns. They know they were not stolen, and that the woman “did not have a permit.” (They clarify that she would not have needed one just to keep them in the house.)

*They say they are going to play a recording of some of the 911 calls – they want to single out exceptional police work (they name Sgt. Tony Bailey).

*First, they are recounting how events unfolded after police got the call. So far, nothing has changed from the story that was disclosed yesterday. But they still don’t know the motive.

*2:10 PM: They’re playing recordings of communication between dispatch and officers. The tapes reveal the terse, precise, urgent communication between police who did not know initially where the suspect was and if there was still danger.

*2:16 PM: Police say they have heard that the 60-year-old alleged killer was suffering from mental illness, but they have not been able to confirm it independently. They say the lone survivor of the shootings “is expected to recover.” They do not yet know who was shot first.

*2:22 PM: Assistant Chief Pugel again singles out Sgt. Bailey for his exceptional work in keeping other officers from going into potential harm’s way when the reality of the situation wasn’t immediately clear – “he was very specific about getting what we call a contact team, properly trained and equipped one, before he let anyone get exposed – and he did it very fast.” Police were there when the last two shots were fired, he says: “You could actually hear the pops.”

2:27 PM: The briefing is over. We are still awaiting word on whether the Medical Examiner will officially identify the victims today – they usually update their daily media report after 3 pm. Meantime, the recording of police communication during the incident was played again after the briefing – here’s Media Unit Det. Mark Jamieson at the laptop:

Police tell us they likely will finish their work at the house later today.

3:09 PM UPDATE: A statement from the family, including information on how to help, circulated by Harborview Medical Center, where the shooting survivor is being cared for:

Statement from Phan, Harm & Sok Family

Yesterday afternoon’s horrible event cost us four family members. They will surely be missed by all of us.

We ask that the media please correct the currently published report. Saroeun Phan has been struggling with schizophrenia and depression for several years and has sought medical attention numerous times. She has been taking medication prescribed to her by physicians. It is not certain whether she has been properly taking her medication these past couple of months.

It is tough enough to grieve with the loss of family members, it’s even harder dealing with false reports. No arguments or fights took place the night before and no ill-will existed in the household. This has truly been an unforeseen, tragic event.

Our family would like to request solitude as we mourn the loved ones we lost. Thank you to all who have sent and continue to send their love, care & prayers. We will certainly need our friends in the coming weeks & months.

If you wish to contribute monetarily to costs of funeral & medical expenses, we have set up a benevolent account at BECU. That information is below. Deposits can be made at any BECU accepting deposits, by mail or electronically (for BECU Members only).

‘Phan/Harm Memorial Fund’
Acct # 3586082948

PO BOX 34044
SEATTLE, WA 98124-1044

BECU Members can call: (800) 233-2328

Phan, Harm & Sok Family

7:23 PM UPDATE: Adding some more video from today’s press conference. This is the question and answer session with additional information:

38 Replies to "Update: Police briefing on West Seattle shootings; family statement"

  • HolyKow September 24, 2010 (2:24 pm)

    If I do not miss my mark here, the top one is a Baretta 850 .25 cal semi auto handgun. The one on the bottom looks like an older Browning (FN) HiPower 9mm.

    I have now seen unconfirmed quotes that the GMa was indeed suspected of having some mental issues. So, that is where a Gun Safe and NOT giving her access to the keys would have helped this family out.

    This was an avoidable tragedy with some basic gun safety procedure, but all it is now is a cautionary tale to the rest of us:

    ALWAYS LOCK UP YOUR GUNS!!!! Especially if you have kids or relatives that have no business getting into them. The have fingerprint scanners for gun safes now. There is no excuse for things like this to happen other than lack of attention to your responsibility as a gun owner. If you cannot afford the safety gear, do not take the responsibility of gun ownership in the home. Store them elsewhere or do not own one in the first place.

    Responsibility is not an easy word to live up to.

    This is not a post of blame, but a plea to everyone that reads this to PLEASE act responsibly with regards to firearms. As with all rights, there are significant responsibilities that go with them.


    • WSB September 24, 2010 (2:26 pm)

      HK, I didn’t catch the second make but they did mention Baretta as a brand for one.

      • WSB September 24, 2010 (2:44 pm)

        Update on gun make – Taurus is the manufacturer of the other one, per police.

  • Lo September 24, 2010 (2:42 pm)

    That video links to a comedian now and not the police video.

    • WSB September 24, 2010 (2:44 pm)

      Yes, I’m swapping it out. Thanks.

  • Adam September 24, 2010 (3:06 pm)

    The second gun looks like a PT92, if it’s actually a Taurus. Clone of a Beretta 92.

    The little gun is a Beretta 950 I believe, I don’t know what a Beretta 850 is.

  • Chuck and Sally\'s Van Man September 24, 2010 (3:18 pm)

    As the holder of a concealed carry permit and gun enthusiast in general, it still baffles me why we need to parade the actual weapons used in front of the media (and thus the populace)? I mean, what purpose can it serve? Does it really matter what brand, caliber, make or model was used? How does it change the fact innocent people were killed at the hands of a person with mental issues? Bigger questions are HOW and WHY these guns ended up in the hands of someone who does not have the mental stability to own them.

    I realize this is a rant sure to fall on deaf ears, but it always baffles me how the police show off these weapons almost as if they are displaying the killer herself. It serves no purpose other than to make people unnecessarily fear guns (you should fear the people, people) and casts the cops as greater heroes. They did their job, they did it well, now save us from handgun show-and-tell.


  • HolyKow September 24, 2010 (3:18 pm)

    Sorry, FF’d that one 950…Yeah, looks like an HP, but I could not place that dip on the right side of the grip handle near the safety…looked up the Taurus 100 and there it is…

    well stated.


  • Patrick September 24, 2010 (3:19 pm)

    Per the media unit – the 9mm is a Taurus and the .25 is a Beretta.

  • HolyKow September 24, 2010 (3:25 pm)

    Comment to Chuck removed by me because I realized I don’t care what he thinks…


  • P September 24, 2010 (3:30 pm)

    It’s very nice to hear command staff say such great things about Sgt. Bailey. He is a wonderful sgt to have @sw.

  • Leroniusmonkfish September 24, 2010 (3:42 pm)

    A gun is a gun…

  • onceachef September 24, 2010 (3:44 pm)

    Just curious…is it really necessary to show the guns used? Then we have to read all of the “gun geeks” have a relatively stupid conversation about their knowledge (or lack thereof) of weapons…really, is it necessary? It’s sensationalism at best. I believe in freedom of speech and the second amendment (even though I don’t own a gun) but it’s like a “p***ing” contest…who can one-up the other with what they know or don’t know…grow up…4 people died here, that’s what’s important.

  • LB September 24, 2010 (3:46 pm)

    I second “Chuck and Sally\’s Van Man” comment. It serves no legitimate purpose to display the firearms used in this (or other) crime(s). Does SPD display severed limbs from the scenes of car accidents? Of course not. So what is the real purpose here?

  • Manolita September 24, 2010 (4:08 pm)

    May the deceased rest in peace…

  • Sam Sanity September 24, 2010 (4:20 pm)

    To all the patriotic gun nuts & enthusiasts:
    Thank you for keeping America safe. I’m being sarcastic.

    Anyone can get a gun if they don’t already have one or more. Are we safer? No. Locked up or not, they are commonly used for murder.

    Why are gun freaks so sensitive about the public seeing the guns? Comparisons to displaying severed limbs?

    Chuck & Sally writes: “Bigger questions are HOW and WHY these guns ended up in the hands of someone who does not have the mental stability to own them.”

    How does anyone know who is mentally stable? Maybe she was mentally stable last month.

    America is a violent country. Many of us are not peace-loving. That’s an old myth. The right to bear arms comes along with the right to have your family and friends murdered through acts of rage, dementia, or malice. If you think you can have the right without the murders you’re fooling yourself.

  • bridge to somewhere September 24, 2010 (5:02 pm)

    So incredibly sad. I would like the police to also give a briefing on the Roxhill Park murder. The murderer in that case is still on the loose and a number of us remain very scared. We have so little information to go on, save the name of the victim and the type of injuries he received. While the family shooting certainly has taken Seattle’s attention, it’s important to remember that the day before a very terrible murder took place, one in which the perp remains at large. What’s going on there?

  • Baba September 24, 2010 (5:09 pm)

    I think some posters here got it all wrong. Police and all other taxpayer sponsored services do need to show US what they were up against (the police response to this incident was huge $$$). It’s kinda like when you hear ambulance or police sirens at 3 at night( just oscillating lights would be plenty IMHO, there is nobody on the streets to move to the right at this time of night). But when it wakes people up, the idea, I think, is to let people know: Hey, we are working here and YOU are paying for it…And I , personally, have no problem with that!

  • AJP September 24, 2010 (5:21 pm)

    Thanks for the information on donations. This house is around the corner from mine, and although I don’t know them, they are my neighbors. We’ll make a contribution to help them out. Two families living in one house–sounds like they will probably need some help. I just keep thinking, what would I do if this were my family? How would I go on? Right this minute the pressing issues are where to live, how to pay the bills that are coming, how to eat, how to go to work to make money for all these things when this has happened to you. I just can’t fathom it. I feel so heartbroken for them.

  • traci September 24, 2010 (5:59 pm)

    I’ve been thinking about this all day. My heart is broken for the family. In my opinion this has nothing to do with guns one way or the other. It could have been any other weapon, and this particular case isn’t really appropriate for that discussion.

    Thanks WSB for your hard work.

  • Sam Sanity September 24, 2010 (6:50 pm)

    Nothing to do with guns? Can’t remember the last time I head about a grandmother killing 4 people with a hammer.

  • Kim September 24, 2010 (8:30 pm)

    It looks like the fund at BECU is for final expenses and medical expenses. I would like to see a general fund set up for the family. I think that this may help with day to day expenses that are mentioned above. These days many people have to try hard to figure out how they will put gas in their cars to get kids to school and themselves to work. It can be a struggle to buy food and clothing. It would be good to help with those expenses.

  • Kim September 24, 2010 (8:37 pm)

    Our community now has an opportunity to help a family who really needs help.

  • visitor September 25, 2010 (12:10 am)

    I agree with Sam Sanity!

  • traci September 25, 2010 (12:54 am)

    Yeah I guess I can’t remember the last time a grandmother killed four people with any weapon. Again, my heart goes out to the family.

  • EyeLiveInWS September 25, 2010 (12:59 am)

    Trust me – the gun didn’t do the crime. The gun didn’t come out of a locked cabinet and jump into the hands of a person with mental stability issues.
    Someone that owned these guns did not make sure the guns were appropriately secured.
    Now, you have an answer why “gun enthusiasts” get upset when idiots start chiming in about taking away all the guns. Just because some irresponsible person in this household didn’t lock up the guns does NOT ever, ever give you or anyone the right to take away my right to have my guns. Can we move on now?

  • littlebrowndog September 25, 2010 (4:39 am)

    Maybe I am not remembering correctly, but I thought I read or heard that the man who died and the woman who was injured were the primary breadwinners in the family. That general fund seems especially necessary if that is the case.

  • littlebrowndog September 25, 2010 (4:54 am)

    There’s a lot of important talk here about gun safety, but what about the other piece of the equation, living with mental illness? What does the general public know about mental illnesses? What do people with lived experience of mental illness have to say about wellness and recovery and how they have come to travel that path? What do family members have to say? What can we do when we, a family member, a neighbor, develops a mental illness?

  • Sam Sanity September 25, 2010 (8:43 am)

    I would never suggest that we take away the right of Americans to own guns. I just want the gun enthusiasts to accept responsibility for the senseless needless killings that occur every day because our nation is awash in easily available guns.

    It’s like peanut butter & jelly. Guns & murder. Let’s admit it and move on. Thank you for making America a safer place with your guns.

  • kae September 25, 2010 (9:57 am)


    Research shows that people with mental illness are no more dangerous than people without mental illness. Unfortunately, the majority of what the general public hears about mental illness in the media is associated with violence, which is not representative of the greater population of people with mental illness. Mental illness is a biological brain disease with symptoms manifested in emotions, thoughts and behaviors; mental illness is not the result of weakness or poor character or ill will. People with mental illness should not be feared, rather seen with compassion, not judgement, just as someone with any other disease such as cancer or diabetes.

    For more info: http://www.nami.org (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

  • Karlynn September 25, 2010 (10:24 am)

    I think this should be an eyeopener for all of us. The fact is, almost anyone can own a gun. Having worked in law enforcement, I know how *difficult* it is to refuse someone the right to own a firearm. ‘Mental Illness’ is a very difficult grounds to prove when using it to deny the right to purchase a firearm. Unless a person has been involuntarily committed a number of documented times, mental illness can rarely be used as grounds to deny.
    Seriously, look up the grounds that can be used to deny a firearm. I think you’ll be shocked how easy it is.

  • Mary T September 25, 2010 (10:25 am)

    There’s an excellent — and heartbreaking — article in the Times:

  • charlabob September 25, 2010 (12:06 pm)

    Thank you, Sam! I agree with the strict constructionist view of what the right to bear arms means. “Militia”. Our extreme right-wing activist supreme court has made it the right of every bozo to own whatever (s)he wants. I won’t continue here, because it’s not the thread in which to pursue it.

    If someone sets up a fund for living expenses, we’ll be happy to contribute.

  • Stacymama September 25, 2010 (2:22 pm)

    This is such a tragedy for the family. They obviously care deeply for eachother and did not forsee this event. Thank you to NAMI for providing some insight about people suffering from mental illness and violent crimes. Thank you to the family for providing a way to give assistance during this time of unforseen financial hardship.
    This entire episode was not common. Making it a REASON for gun control or lack of gun control makes no sense because it is not common. BTW – the other WS homicide was a beating and the result is still the same: death. Those blog entries focused on poverty rather than the tragedy. aargh…

  • A September 25, 2010 (6:34 pm)

    I hate to say it but have to. If all of these kids would have been in school A) they wouldn’t be dead and B) they wouldn’t have experienced the most traumatic thing they’ll ever see in their life. Why were these kids not in school?! I read that the 16 yo had just arrived home with his dad after helping him with his landscaping business. I’m just saying and I’m sure everyone will go nuts bc that’s what they do on here. But it’s the truth…

  • Kayleigh September 26, 2010 (9:19 am)

    If guns don’t kill, Eye, why are you so desperately insistent to hang onto yours? You want one precisely *because* it’s lethal. Otherwise you could just brandish a toothpick or a rake to defend yourself, right?
    Guns should not be around children, felons, abusers, pets, or people with mental illness–period.
    We’ll “move on” when innocent people stop dying of gunfire.
    Much love to the victims’ family and friends. :(

  • Wellseehere September 27, 2010 (5:40 pm)

    The only thing that can stop an active shooter in their tracks is another active shooter. Guns ARE good at killing people, which is why everyone called the cops to come stop her.

    So guns are only tools, thus they have no inherent moral quality. If Louisville Sluggers were the weapon of choice for committing murder, there would be some yahoo condemning them- Little League and MLB alike be damned!

    Unfortunately, murder is pretty basic to the human condition. There has always been and will always be killers among us. It is childish to think changing the tool set will fix the human condition- especially when you risk taking useful tools away from those who would NEVER murder an innocent.

    Truth is, there are more people willing to defend lives than to take them. We saw a whole lot of cops and vigilant citizens that fateful day- but only one crazed killer.

    If you are one of the many people brave and useful enough to face down a violent criminal to protect the innocent, just make sure you have a good set of tools and the skills to use ’em- and don’t worry about the yahoos who don’t like it…

    Just my .02 cents.

  • WS Suzanne September 28, 2010 (6:39 pm)

    I just want to encourage everyone who can to contribute to BECU’s memorial fund. A conversation about guns doesn’t help this family. These people deserve better from their West Seattle community. Call BECU and contribute what you can. That’s what will help these people.

Sorry, comment time is over.