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Wednesday, September 15, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Police: Sniper Had To End Siege

Seattle Times Snohomish County Bureau

AN INQUEST is told that when Lonnie Davis barricaded himself in a house after a deadly rampage, police had no other choice but to kill him.

When they gave the order to kill Lonnie Davis, nobody even knew his name.

Who he was wasn't important; what he'd done was.

Police knew by late afternoon May 28 that "the suspect" had run down a motorcyclist on Interstate 5, beaten a woman to death and another nearly so.

He'd taken cover in a Shoreline house filled with guns and bullets, and pinned down six police officers hunkered behind scanty cover as 50 or 60 bullets winged past.

He'd wounded one officer with a bullet that fractured her skull.

He didn't answer repeated police calls to negotiate.

And he just kept shooting.

Whoever he was, he wasn't like other offenders Sue Rahr had encountered in more than 20 years of police work, Rahr testified yesterday in Shoreline District Court in the inquest into Davis' death.

"He doesn't want to get away. He doesn't want to hide. He wants to kill people," testified Rahr, a King County sheriff's major who also is Shoreline's police chief.

She conferred with Sheriff Dave Reichert at the command center set up at the Shoreline Community Center. They thought the gunman would shoot anyone who came into the house, so storming it was out. They couldn't wait him out; it was just a matter of time until an officer was shot dead. And what if he escaped from the house and resumed killing neighborhood residents?

For the first time in her career, Rahr ordered the SWAT team to end it, as fast as they could, with "a marksman's resolution."

"You simply wait until you have the shot," Rahr explained, "and you take it."

Sheriff's sharpshooter Don Ellis took the shot that killed Davis, 21, of Brier. Only then did police learn that there were two more bodies in Brier: those of Shelia Lindsey, Davis' mother, and Khari Prince, his 18-month-old nephew, both stabbed to death by Davis, police say.

Davis' father, Lonnie Davis Sr., just can't comprehend it, said his lawyer. Yesterday, Davis Sr. denounced the inquest as a one-sided effort to condone the killing of his son without examining what caused his son's actions.

"What happened in Brier, I don't know. What happened in Shoreline, I don't know. What happened that day and all those terrible things was not my son," Davis Sr. said. "This was not my son."

He said his son wasn't trained to handle guns, leaving lawyers in the courtroom wondering if he thought someone other than his son had fired at police for hours.

But his lawyer, Michael Jacobsen, said Davis Sr. knows it was his son who caused mayhem in Shoreline.

"There's no question that the shooter was his son. But the person that was killed, the person that he loved more than anything in the world on May 27 had never done anything like that before," Jacobsen said. "It's enormously difficult for him. He wishes his son hadn't been killed. He wants to understand what happened and what went wrong, and he wishes he could talk to his son about it."

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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