Deputies respond to report of man with gun

Language barrier fuels Hazel Dell incident; no arrests made

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

Published:

Updated: June 6, 2011, 10:17 PM

 

What do you do when you return to your foreclosed home, thinking you still have the right to stay there, and find three strange men inside?

A Hazel Dell man pulled out his cellphone and a small handgun and asked the men what was going on.

But they spoke only in an Eastern European language and couldn’t answer, police say.

In a situation that could be emblematic of the economic downturn and epic foreclosures, several Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies rushed to 9012 N.W. 15th Ave. about 7 p.m. Monday

Told that a gunman had threatened to kill three men if they left the scene, the deputies were on high alert.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Randon Walker said deputies were told the gunman drove away in a black Mitsubishi SUV, and the three men drove off in a truck pulling a utility trailer.

Arriving quickly at Northwest 94th Street and 15th Avenue, Walker saw the Mitsubishi, and its driver shouted something at him. Walker said he turned on his overhead flashing lights and the SUV stopped immediately. The truck and trailer stopped nearby as well.

Drawing guns, several deputies performed high-risk stops on the occupants of both vehicles and detained them. Deputies with rifles held them in the low-ready position, pointed at the ground between them and the persons who were being detained, Walker said.

No shots were fired and no one was reported injured.

All four were cooperative and explained what had happened.

The owner of the foreclosed home said he hadn’t been evicted and thought he still had a legal right to stay there. He’d returned from being out of town and found the men inside.

The men he found inside had a work order from a legitimate restoration service that cleans up foreclosed homes, Walker said.

In the end, deputies didn’t arrest anyone.

The former homeowner had pulled his small handgun and cellphone out of a pants pocket, but didn’t point the gun at anyone. And he had a concealed weapons permit.

“Since he did not point it at anyone, there was no clear violation of the law,” Walker said.

Walker said the incident boiled down to a civil issue between the foreclosed-upon former homeowner and the bank that now owns the house. The bank may need to start a court eviction process, he added.

Deputies will forward their reports to the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office for a legal review of whether any crimes were committed.

John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com.<I>