FOLLOWUP: Investigators identify man found dead in West Seattle house fire that erupted during eviction attempt

(WSB photo:Flower bouquets were left outside the house in the days since the fire)

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.

(WSB reader photo from Friday night, by Dan)

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.

17 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Investigators identify man found dead in West Seattle house fire that erupted during eviction attempt"

  • Jethro Marx May 16, 2018 (5:47 pm)

    Before we all go crazy here, can we remember that the victim was never convicted of a crime and never threatened violence towards the community during this incident? Don’t equate loaded guns with an intention to shoot people. Mental illness is difficult to treat and access to care is an ongoing challenge in our country.

    • Whyby May 17, 2018 (3:51 pm)

      Who you calling crazy, jethro?

      i would equate staging weapons at windows and setting fire to a home- with a very dangerous situation for all- regardless of intent or capacity. 

      Very sad, and very scary..

      • Jethro Marx May 17, 2018 (9:21 pm)

        A poor choice of word, now that I think on it. The statement from the Sheriff frames the situation as one of a possible mass shooting narrowly averted- a hypothetical, rather than reality. Plus, the initial blog article’s comments detoured into a rambling discussion on guns, and I don’t think that’s what this story is about.

        • Whyby May 18, 2018 (10:15 am)

          Are you daft? Can you see the picture with all the weapons laid out? I don’t think anyone is disputing this man had difficult challenges, but I don’t understand your objective in minimizing the potential danger of this situation or law enforcement concerns!?  At the point you refuse to comply with a court order, have a standoff with a swat team, barricade your home with loaded weapons, and set the house on fire- anything goes! I don’t see any exaggeration on the pontential for escalation of this situation. Any smaller response from Police or KCS or FD would be unacceptable. 

  • Alki resident May 16, 2018 (5:55 pm)

    RIP David

  • Al May 16, 2018 (6:02 pm)

    I walked right by that house that morning. Minutes before all this.  

  • T May 16, 2018 (7:40 pm)

    Someone commented in the other story on the day of the fire that David had a hard childhood or the eluded to some challenges. This is so sad on many levels.

    • Alki resident May 16, 2018 (8:04 pm)

      That was me. Wish there was a way to ban people from having kids. He never had a chance. Even up to the end. Just devastating.

      • T May 16, 2018 (8:44 pm)

        Thanks. I agree. It’s sad how “parents ” treat vulnerable, impressionable kids. Also sad to read so many reports of CPS failing kids too.

  • IJ May 16, 2018 (8:47 pm)

    Was David quite tall and extremely thin ?

  • Also John May 17, 2018 (7:42 am)

    That was really nice of someone to place those flowers……  Someone did die.


  • C May 17, 2018 (11:10 am)

    I too was wondering who this man was, having lived in W Sea since 2003…. anyone have any pics or a link to the obituary? RIP David

    • WSB May 17, 2018 (11:24 am)

      There is no obituary so far as I have found. (I’d been looking at the local funeral home sites wondering if something would turn up there before the Medical Examiner released the ID.) I had even checked to see if the mother’s will and other related documents were online – but it’s filed in Lewis County and all they show is the docket, not the documents. The eviction filing in King County was pretty sparse – just the standard “we’re ordering you to leave” paperwork, albeit with numerous extensions.

      • Alki resident May 17, 2018 (12:51 pm)

        So far there will only be a private gathering at a home . He was loved. 

  • Jack May 17, 2018 (1:43 pm)

    Was he the guy that used to walk around every day in that general area? Tall, thin, longish brown hair with a beard?

    I used to live 2 blocks away from this house and would see this guy walking around pretty much every day.

  • DM May 17, 2018 (2:28 pm)

    Jack that’s not the guy if your wondering about his walking up and down Juno, tall Walt might be who your thinking of in the general area.

  • IJ May 17, 2018 (7:36 pm)

    Is tall Walt the guy who was used to walk with his mom who was blond 

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