The Pasco man killed by police Wednesday night after a prolonged standoff had fired more than 60 rounds inside and outside his home, including many at law enforcement officers.
Rick R. Howard, 49, was killed after he came out of his home with a handgun, shot gun and assault rifle. He pointed the assault rifle in a threatening manner at officers, police said. Howard lived at the home at 5714 Sacramento Drive.
He was shot once in the chest by Benton County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Surplus.
Police released the new details about the standoff at a 2 p.m. press conference Thursday.
Never miss a local story.
The gunfight started earlier in the day when Howard came out of his home shooting. An off-duty Benton County Sheriff’s deputy who lived nearby was outside playing with his kids when he heard the gunshots.
The deputy ran back into his home to get his pistol and a firefight ensued, which trapped the deputy in his home.
Investigators said Howard was highly intoxicated and had been drinking all day and was mentally unstable. He also had been making suicidal statements to neighbors and 911 dispatchers.
A Pasco man who fired shots at officers and barricaded himself inside a home in the Capital Park neighborhood was shot dead Wednesday night after standoff, police officials said.
Richard R. Howard, 49, was killed by a member of the Tri-City Regional SWAT Team after he pointed what appeared to be a rifle at officers, Pasco police Capt. Jim Raymond said. Howard lived at the home at 5714 Sacramento Drive.
Police were called to the house about 6:30 p.m. following reports of shots fired, Raymond said. When officers arrived, Howard was near a car at the front of the house and eventually he moved into the house where he started to shoot at police.
Officers from around the Tri-Cities descended on the neighborhood and blocked off several blocks.
“Officers did not return any fire in the neighborhood,” Raymond said. “They simply got it secured and got the neighborhood evacuated for a lack of a better term.”
The SWAT Team was called in and tried to get Howard out of the house for several hours, Raymond said. Police determined no one else was in the home.
Howard stepped out of the house about 10:30 p.m. and apparently pointed a rifle at officers, Raymond said. A member of the SWAT Team then shot and killed Howard.
“He came out with what’s being reported as a long rifle and presented himself in a menacing manner,” Raymond said.
Police have not released the officer’s name. A press conference about the shooting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Raymond said it’s unclear how many times Howard was shot, but that the only time officers fired at him was when he raised the gun.
An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. A special investigations unit comprised of regional law enforcement agencies is heading up the investigation.
Investigators are working to figure out what led Howard to fire multiple shots in the Capital Park neighborhood before officers arrived, Raymond said. There is a possibility that Howard was shooting at a neighbor.
Raymond said police also are looking into the possibility that the Howard was attempting to commit suicide by cop. Investigators did not find a suicide note.
A nearby neighbor posted a video to social media that showed children setting up a lemonade stand yards from where Howard was shooting. More than five shots can be heard in the video.
“We are still trying to sort that out because it’s a little confusing what led him to that state of mind before the call,” Raymond said. “As of right now, we know there were some events that led him up to that point.”
Neighbors told the Herald they were confused when police surrounded the neighborhood and told them to stay in their homes.
Most didn’t know what was going on, only that police told them to stay in their homes.
“I came outside and saw all these policemen with guns and rifles. It was frightening,” said a 15-year-old girl who declined to give her name. “It really scared me because my dad isn’t home from work yet.”
Alfonso Cruz, 30, was concerned about his children, whom he’d left in the care of his brother while he worked out at a local gym. His brother lives on Denver Drive near where the shots were fired.
He got a call from his sister-in-law to hurry and come and pick up his children because gunshots were being fired in the neighborhood, Cruz said.
“When I got here the police wouldn’t let me get to my brother’s house because it was too near where it was all happening,” he said. “I’m really worried.”