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Lonnie DAVIS Jr.





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Crime spree
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: May 26, 1999
Date of birth: 1977
Victims profile: His mother, Sheila Lindsey, 46, his sister's son, Kahari Prince, 18 months, and Erma Spence, 63
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife / Beating with a garden tool
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Status: Killed by a police sniper the same day

Sniper's shot was justified, inquest jury says

By Scott Sunde - Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Tuesday, September 21, 1999

SHORELINE -- A jury decided yesterday that a sniper with the King County Sheriff's Office was justified when he shot and killed Lonnie Davis Jr., ending a deadly crime spree.

After listening to a week of testimony, jurors said in interviews, they found little fault with what Deputy Don Ellis did that day.

"Don Ellis was trained to do a certain thing. And he did what he was trained to do," said jury foreman Ram C. Prasad.

The jury's decision was unanimous.

"I'm glad it's over," said Ellis, who had never been involved in a police shooting in more than eight years as a SWAT team marksman. "It's unfortunate these events have to occur."

Several jurors, however, did question police tactics on May 28.

They wondered especially whether better efforts could have been made to negotiate the gunman's surrender and whether tear gas should have been fired into the heavily armed house.

"What could have been done to get Mr. Davis to surrender? We went around and around on that," Prasad said in describing the jury's deliberations, which lasted more than three hours.

In King County, police use of deadly force goes before a District Court inquest to see whether law enforcement actions were proper and to give the incident a public airing.

The jury's decision will be forwarded to King County prosecutors, who must now decide whether charges should be filed in the police shooting.

King County has been using inquests after police shootings since the mid-1980s, and juries typically side with officers. Other counties in the state use the inquest process sparingly.

The only instance in recent years of a jury going against police had to do with a shooting in 1992 in Snohomish County. In that incident, a SWAT team member shot to death a fleeing woman.

The Davis case was unusual because more than an hour before Ellis made the fatal shot with his .308-caliber scoped rifle, top officials had given authorization for a "marksman's resolution."

That meant Ellis or the other three marksmen who had been deployed could shoot Davis if he still presented a deadly threat. The marksmen are trained to aim for the head.

Davis' family may file a lawsuit over the 21-year-old man's death. But attorney Michael Jacobson said that decision hasn't been made.

Lonnie Davis Sr., the dead man's father, attended parts of the inquest and expressed frustration over the proceedings and the testimony of law enforcement officials. He said he doubts that the son he knew could have done what authorities have described.

Police believe Lonnie Davis Jr.'s violent rampage began in Brier, where he allegedly stabbed to death his mother and toddler nephew. He allegedly then took a car and fled south on Interstate 5, where he ran into a motorcyclist.

The motorcyclist's leg had to be amputated.

Davis then ran into a Shoreline neighborhood on Seventh Avenue Northeast. Within minutes, he had beaten one woman to death and broke the neck of another.

Davis took refuge in a house that contained eight guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

He fired on police for several hours, wounding one officer in the head.

Nothing was said or presented at the inquest in Shoreline District Court that answered why Davis, who had some brushes with the law but was considered "sweet" by family members, snapped that day.

Jurors wondered what sparked it all.

"This was a really violent incident," said juror Louis Peterman. "What happened?"

The only time Davis communicated with police was when he emerged from the house to shoot at two SWAT officers. One officer reported hearing Davis swear at police.

A short time later, Davis appeared in an open window with a .45-caliber pistol in his hand. From the back room of a nearby home, Ellis took his shot. The bullet hit Davis in the face, and Davis died within seconds.

Several jurors extended their thanks to Ellis for the job he does, and they offered their sympathy to the Davis family. Prasad also thanked Shoreline Police Chief Sue Rahr for "protecting the community."

Rahr spoke with jurors after the decision.

Some jurors wondered whether police could have used other means to try to talk to Davis.

Police negotiators phoned the home where Davis was, but he never picked up the receiver. The negotiators left messages for Davis on an answering machine.

One juror noted that Davis was apparently watching the incident on live television and speculated that perhaps police should have tried to communicate with Davis through that medium.

The SWAT team fired tear gas only after Davis was shot. Officers said they had planned to use tear gas earlier, but neighborhood evacuation delayed that plan.


Lonnie Davis

VICTIMS : 3 dead so far (2 critically injured - maybe on their way out)

On the last Saturday in May, 1999, a nutter killed his mother and nephew. They were stabbed to death. He then fatally beat a woman, critically injured another woman, run over a motorcyclist and shot a sheriff's deputy. A pretty good effort from a guy that most thought was a pretty together guy.

Believed to be responsible for it all was 22-year-old Lonnie Davis, who was shot dead by a police sniper after a standoff with police in a northern suburb of Seattle.

Davis had previous run-ins with the law in King County but no known history of violence, Brier Police Chief Gary Minor said.

"I don't think we're ever going to know what set him off. At this point, we don't have a clue," he said. "We don't know that he had a history of any mental problems."

It started with the deaths of Davis' mother, Sheila Lindsey, 46, and his sister's son, Kahari Prince, 18 months. The two were stabbed to death with a three-inch paring knife Friday morning, probably around 10 or 11 a.m., Minor said.

Lonnie changed out of his bloodied jeans and T-shirt and left without washing up.

At about 1:30 p.m., Lonnie, driving his mothers black Honda station wagon, swerved into a motorcycle on Interstate 5 in Shoreline, located in King County a few miles south of Brier.

The motorcyclist, Anthony Venegas, 64, had to have his leg amputated below the knee.

It must have been a fairly violent accident because papers described the car as being "torn in half and burned." Davis fled on foot into a nearby neighborhood.

Moments later, a resident called 911 when she heard Erma Spence screaming for help.

Spence, 63, was found lying in her yard in a pool of blood, with what looked like a broken posthole digger - a garden tool - near her body. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Lonnie then attacked 82-year-old Irene Hilton in her yard, hitting her with an object (not yet known what he used) and breaking her neck and critically injuring her (not sure if she survived), police said.

Sheriff's officers say the man then found an empty house that contained a large number of weapons (odd for an American house to a shitload of weapons available to anyone to take) and started firing at officers. Deputy Diana Russell was hit in the head by flying glass and a ricocheting bullet. She was in serious condition that Saturday night (I don't know if she survived).

King County Sheriff Dave Reichert said his officers responded with just the single sniper shot (and we all believe that, don't we?). The officers then fired three rounds of tear gas into the home, at 15 minute intervals, to make sure the man was down, he said.

"The sniper's shot was meant to kill," said an honest Reichert. I wonder if this is what police are usually taught to say. I though they were meant to say that it was an accident, or that it was in self-defence, or even that the killer took his own life.

"It's a sad thing and it's a tough decision to make," he said, "but in this case it was the right thing to do."

The Wacky World of Murder



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