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The Dead Man In The Burned Out Treehouse Near Orting
Woman also shot and injured
at remote crime scene

March 13, 2018

SWAT team members are first to raft across the river with assistance of the Swiftwater deputies. LARGER IMAGES BELOW

By Rex D. Cain

(ORTING, WA.) -- It was a strange piece of crime business, deep in those woods near the rural community of Orting, Washington, a town of about 8,000 people in Pierce County located at the confluence of the Carbon and Puyallup rivers in the Puget Sound Lowlands.

Here's how the Pierce County Sherif's office said deputies pieced it all together. The broad stroke is this: deputies responded Monday to a call about a woman who'd been shot near Orting.

They discover that not only had she been shot (in the foot) a male friend had also been shot and killed in a treehouse in a remote area near the Carbon River. The dead man was in the treehouse when they found him. That treehouse had been set on fire. A suspect was eventually found and arrested.

Now here's the granular look:

~ Just before 3:30 am Monday deputies with the Pierce County Sheriff's office Foothills Detachment responded to a 911 call from a man reporting that a woman had been shot. Not only that, but the injured woman had been transported by the man that reportedly shot her to a residence on Pioneer Way East in the Orting area.

~ When the first deputy arrived at the house he found a woman there who "was in apparent shock and was suffering from a gunshot wound to her foot," said a sheriff's office statement. She tells deputies that she and a male friend had both been shot by "a male acquaintance armed with a rifle during a confrontation in a treehouse on the other side of the Carbon River" She gives a name and physical description of the suspect, then was taken to a nearby hospital.

~ The same deputy that talked to that woman then contacted the 911 caller, who reported that at about 3 am Monday morning he woke to the sound of the suspected shooter banging on his door and asking for help to "retrieve the injured woman from the other side of the river."

~ So the 911 caller and suspect in the shootings reportedly crossed the river in inflatable boats, to where the woman victim was located on the other shore. "She had reportedly been shot at a treehouse in a wooded area approximately 3/4 of a mile up a trail from the river bank, then was transported by the suspect to the river in a wheelbarrow."

~ The 911 caller (now a witness to events) said that he loaded the injured woman into one of the inflatable boats, ferried her back across the river, carried her into his house and called 911.

~ The suspected perpetrator (perp, as they call them in the police trade) was last seen crossing back over the river toward the wooded area where the treehouse was located.

~ Turns out those "foothills deputies" and the sheriff's office Search & Rescue Team were familiar with the treehouse described by the injured woman as the location where the shooting occurred, "Due to frequent transient activity and previous SAR callouts for missing or stranded people who attempted to cross the river to access the treehouse."

~ So a full-on law enforcement tribe - large number of deputies, detectives, forensics, the Swiftwater Rescue Team and the sheriff's office SWAT team - descends upon that area.

~ The crime scene could only be accessed by boat and "All responding department members had to be rafted across the river by Swiftwater and then hike into to the remote scene once it was secured by SWAT," said the sheriff's office statement.

~ At daybreak the SWAT team members do their SWAT thing and were the first to raft across the river with the assistance of the Swiftwater deputies. Some of the SWAT members hiked in toward the treehouse as others checked the riverbank for the shooting suspect.

~ At 7 am the SWAT members located a wheelbarrow "with a pistol inside of it." The plot was now beginning to thicken. The team continued through the woods and at 7:30 am they located the treehouse. It had been set on fire. Inside the burned out structure they find a man's body (that had also been set on fire) and a rifle. As of last report the dead man had not been positively identified.

~ Just before 8:00 am a Search & Rescue deputy sees a guy in hip waders walking with a dog and heading south along the river’s edge.

~ A team of SWAT members and Swiftwater members jump into a boat after spotting the man and floated downriver, where they "observed the same man was now in the brush and trying to climb up a hill."

~ SWAT members and a K9 (a police dog and handler) followed the suspect’s path "straight up the steep hill and located the suspect hiding behind a tree." They say he was "cooperative and slid down the hill along with his dog, and was taken into custody without incident."

~ The 42-year old suspect and his pitbull dog were then transported across the river. Detectives briefly interview the guy and then book him into the Pierce County Jail for Murder in the 1st degree, Assault in the 1st degree and Arson.

~ Throughout the day detectives and forensics people processed the crime scene and interviewed witnesses. Detectives believe the shooting may have occurred "during a dispute between the suspect and the male victim over missing/stolen property."

And so it goes.



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