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News / Clark County News

VA campus shooting victim had sought restraining order

Suspect allegedly had tried to get him to leave his wife, family

By Paris Achen
Published: February 4, 2014, 4:00pm

Tuesday afternoon’s shooting in an office on the U.S. Veterans Affairs campus in Vancouver involved a male victim, who last year sought a restraining order against the woman who is the alleged shooter.

Deborah A. Lennon, suspected of shooting her former supervisor, is scheduled to appear today in court.

The former Veterans Affairs employee faces charges in Clark County Superior Court of first-degree attempted murder, stalking, cyberstalking and first-degree assault.

The victim, Allen Bricker, 45, sought a protection order against Lennon in January 2013, alleging that she was stalking him with daily emails, according to court documents obtained by The Columbian.

Lennon, 46, of Vancouver walked into Bricker’s fourth-floor office about 4 p.m. Tuesday, pulled out a handgun and shot Bricker twice in the chest, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Veterans Affairs employee and former Marine Neil Burkhardt, 31, of Portland then wrestled the gun from Lennon, detaining her until police arrived.

Bricker, chief financial officer for the VA Northwest Health Network since 2008, has worked for Veterans Affairs for 21 years.

Lennon was a financial auditor before she resigned from the agency of her own accord about two years ago to relocate out of state, according to Veterans Affairs.

In an email to Bricker contained in court documents, Lennon wrote that she left because Bricker was married.

“That’s the real reason I left V20 (VA Northwest Health Network),” she wrote. “I couldn’t stand to watch you married.”

Megan Crowley, spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs, said that Bricker and Lennon did not have any sort of sexual relationship.

“With no shadow of a doubt, there was no physical relationship,” Crowley said. “Their only interaction was professionally, work-related.”

Lennon wrote to Bricker sometimes several times per day, according to court records filed in Clark County District Court. Her emails professed love for Bricker, urged him to leave his wife and included threats to kill him.

Court Commissioner Jeffrey Witteman issued two temporary protection orders against Lennon in January 2013 but denied a request for a permanent protection order on March 20, 2013, because neither Bricker or Lennon showed up at the hearing.

The shooting occurred at the Center for Community Health building on the Veterans Affairs campus, 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. The building was locked down for the rest of the day. The fourth floor of the building houses the VA Northwest Health Network.

Bricker sustained serious injuries and remains hospitalized at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. His condition was not available Wednesday.

Lennon sustained some injuries to her face and chest area and was treated at a local hospital while under guard by law enforcement. She was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and booked into the Clark County Jail.

Burkhardt suffered an injury to his right hand while disarming Lennon, which required him to stay Tuesday night at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, according to the sheriff’s office. No one was else was injured in the incident.

Burkhardt works at Veterans Affairs as the executive assistant to the department director. He was listed in good condition Wednesday.

“Certainly from what I know, we consider him a hero,” said Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Fred Neiman. “The potential that was there for compounding this tragedy further was certainly present.”

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Investigators continue to look into the motive behind the shooting, Neiman said.

In his request for a protection order Jan. 11, 2013, Bricker said the unwanted contact with Lennon began in late November 2012. Bricker reported the alleged stalking to Vancouver police in early January 2013, according to court documents.

In a Dec. 29, 2012, email, Lennon invited Bricker to go to a movie.

“Show up or die (very lovingly),” she wrote to him.

In a Jan. 10, 2013, email to VA officials, Bricker expressed concerns about Lennon’s emails and asked for advice on what to do. He wrote that Lennon was talking to real estate agents and copying him on emails “as if we were a couple.” He also asked in the email whether he should warn Lennon’s prospective employer, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Inspector General, “to let them know they are hiring a mentally unstable person,” according to court records.

2 shootings in 2 days

Tuesday’s incident was the second workplace shooting in two days in Vancouver.

Two men died Monday in a shooting at Benjamin Moore Paints, a paint distribution warehouse at 1800 W. Fourth Plain Blvd. in Vancouver.

Police say that Robert R. Brown, 64, a truck driver for the paint company, shot and killed logistics manager Ryan Momeny, 45, at about 11:30 a.m. before killing himself.

An autopsy report released Wednesday stated that Momeny died of homicide and Brown of suicide.

Sgt. Neiman said that the investigation into Tuesday’s workplace shooting doesn’t show any copycat qualities.

“We don’t have any information to lead us to believe that the two incidents are related in any way shape or form,” he said.

Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt released a statement Wednesday morning, addressing the recent violent acts:

“We share our thoughts, prayers and condolences to the victims, family and friends of those who have suffered from these tragic incidents. It’s saddening and frustrating that the lives of innocent people can be destroyed by senseless acts like these workplace shootings. We are reminded to be vigilant of mental health issues in those around us and be willing to report to proper authorities, so as to possibly prevent such crimes from occurring again. Our sincere appreciation is offered to the first responders — our police, fire and paramedics and school officials — who quickly assessed the situation and took decisive action to secure the scenes and prevent further harm to others.”