Five people are dead, including a gunman, after a shooting in rural Washington State Friday, according to the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office received reports of four shot at a home in Belfair, the agency said on Twitter. A SWAT team assisted the sheriff’s office on the scene, where a standoff and negotiations took place, according to police.
The gunman ended up shooting himself, police said.
According to local news station KOMO, police say the shooting appears to be domestic violence-related:
Officials at the scene said it appeared the suspect may have shot his wife and children. Another child reportedly got away.
SWAT officers and other deputies surrounded the home and negotiated with the suspect for about three hours.
As negotiators talked to the suspect, a teenage girl was taken from the scene by ambulance to Harrison Hospital in Bremerton, said Mason County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ryan Spurling. She was reported to be alive and well, and was taken to the hospital for an evaluation. It was not immediately known if she is the child who got away.
The suspect later walked out of the house and shot himself in front of officers.
The incident comes just one day after a gunman went on a rampage in Kansas, fatally shooting 3 people and injuring 14 others. Just hours before the Kansas shooting, the suspect was served with a domestic violence-related restraining order; however, current laws allowed him to keep his guns.
The connection to domestic violence in these cases is not an anomaly: An estimated 57 percent of mass shootings — defined as incidents where 4 or more people were murdered by a firearm — are related to family or domestic violence.
Each year, an average of at least 1,000 people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions are able to purchase guns without being identified by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The actual number is likely much higher. A review of conviction records in 20 states showed that there are at least 11,986 individuals across the country who have been convicted of misdemeanor-level stalking but are still permitted to possess guns under federal law. It is likely that there are tens of thousands of additional convicted stalkers who are able to buy guns.
Universal background checks would greatly reduce these numbers. Most importantly, they would save lives: In states that have implemented universal background checks, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.
A third shooting spree in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Saturday left 6 dead and 2 others wounded, including one in critical condition.