High speed chase ends with man dead

Three Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies were placed on paid administrative leave Monday evening, pending an investigation into the shooting death of a heavily armed suspect.

No deputies were hurt in the confrontation which left John Buckendorf, 36, of Quilcene dead of gunshot wounds to the head, chest, arms and legs, according to an autopsy completed Tuesday.

Deputies shot and killed Buckendorf after a high-speed vehicle pursuit led state troopers, then county deputies, from Poulsbo to South Kitsap.

Buckendorf, who was reportedly driving a stolen red pickup truck during the pursuit, was dead when medics arrived at the scene on Lake Flora Road in South Kitsap Monday evening.

“The initial review shows this has been by the numbers,” said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer. “The level of professionalism reflects well on the officers.”

The incident occurred a little more than 24 hours before Boyer was to officially launch his re-election bid at a gathering at the Fairgrounds July 2, and was the first fatal suspect shooting during Boyer’s four-year tenure. The incident also occurred in the wake of recent shootings involving King County Sheriff’s deputies or detectives.

“This is the real world,” Boyer said. “They (officers) face this type of danger every day. The facts are clear; a full and complete investigation needs to be conducted now.”

State Patrol troopers initiated the pursuit at about 4:30 p.m. Monday near Trigger Avenue, but abandoned the effort as rush-hour traffic State Route 3 posed safety problems.

Sheriff’s deputies picked up the chase minutes later which ended in the fatal confrontation at 4:50 p.m.

The identities of the three deputies will not be released pending the investigation. Another deputy, a witness in the case, who was initially placed on administrative leave, will return to work. Placing deputies on leave is standard procedure in a shooting.

The State Patrol is leading a joint inquiry with the Sheriff’s Office into the shooting to ensure objectivity, officials said.

Because of this ongoing investigation, the Sheriff’s Office declined to release details — about whether Buckendorf fired a gun at all, if he shot a gun first, if he shot at deputies, or if intoxicants played a role.

“We don’t have a lot of information on his state of mind at this time,” said KCSO chief of detectives, Mike Davis.

The truck driven by Buckendorf belonged to his former employer in Quilcene, and was reported stolen earlier that day in addition to other items.

During a search of the truck, authorities found four long rifles, five handguns and 14 knives. Those weapons also belonged to Buckendorf’s former employer.

Another handgun belonging to Buckendorf’s ex-employer was also located next to his body. Investigators are still waiting for the results of a blood tests to determine if alcohol or drugs were involved.

At 4:24 p.m., witnesses called 911 to report an erratically driven truck on State Route 3 near Poulsbo, according to Trooper Glen Tyrrell, a WSP spokesman.

Troopers spotted Buckendorf five minutes later, driving southbound from Trigger Avenue, and followed him to Kitsap Way. Troopers activated their sirens, but Buckendorf wouldn’t pull over, and troopers had to discontinue the pursuit because the truck started to drive on the shoulder and weave through rush-hour traffic.

A Sheriff’s deputy, aware of the abandoned pursuit, spotted the red truck at about 4:45 p.m. near State Route 3 at Gorst, heading toward Belfair. Lights flashing, deputies pursued the truck, which ultimately turned east onto Lake Flora Road. The truck got turned around and Buckendorf fled on foot before the fatal shooting.

Buckendorf’s was convicted of two felonies; one for attempting to elude police officers in 1987 and another for stolen-property possession in 1988.

He had two outstanding arrest warrants for probation violation and fourth-degree assault.

The Sheriff’s Office plans to offer a debriefing and counseling for deputies.

“The community should not just speak out, but shout out,” Boyer said. “Violence isn’t acceptable. When you have disrespect for officers you have disrespect for everybody.”

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