Wahkiakum County sheriff reportedly kills himself
Veteran lawman's wife said she heard a shot about 5 p.m.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
CATHLAMET — The sheriff of Wahkiakum County in Southwest Washington died Tuesday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a county spokeswoman said.
Sheriff Jon Dearmore, 50, died about 5 p.m. at his home, spokeswoman Marsha LaFarge said.
The sheriff’s office received a call from Dearmore’s wife reporting a gunshot, the spokeswoman said. She did not know whether anyone witnessed the shooting.
LaFarge said she did not know the circumstances of the shooting at the home, which she said was in the west end of the county. Wahkiakum County lies along the Columbia River.
The nearby Cowlitz County sheriff’s office will handle the investigation, with the assistance of that county’s coroner, said Dan Bigelow, Wahkiakum County prosecutor and coroner.
Bigelow said he couldn’t comment on any details of the shooting.
Dearmore had been sheriff for two years and had been in law enforcement for about 25 years, LaFarge said. He is survived by his wife and a college-age daughter, she added.
Undersheriff Mark Howie will run the sheriff’s office for the present, The Daily News of Longview reported.
“I’m very shocked,” County Commissioner Dan Cothren said. “I’m trying to absorb what has happened.”
“Nobody saw this one coming,” said Rick Nelson, publisher of the Wahkiakum County Eagle newspaper. “Just about everybody I know really liked and respected Jon.”
The county sheriff’s office includes five full-time deputies, a small support staff and a handful of reserves. A sheriff’s chaplain was counseling them.
In a 2010 interview, Dearmore told the Longview paper he found himself restless in his 20s although drawing a comfortable paycheck as a branch supervisor at a bank in Chelan in Central Washington.
He grew up loving “Gunsmoke” and other TV westerns, and as a youngster imagined himself as a frontier lawman, he said.
He entered a six-month police reserve academy in his mid-20s. After a day of working at the bank, he’d head to the Chelan police station and hop in a cruiser to shadow the first officer he could find, he said.
“I got bit by the bug,” he said.