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Man killed by Vancouver police in Hazel Dell identified

Police say Carlos Hunter, 43, had gang affiliation; his last local felony conviction was 18 years ago

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:
4 Photos
Vancouver Police officers and Clark County Sheriff's Deputies interact at the scene of a police shooting in Hazel Dell on Thursday, March 7, 2019.
Vancouver Police officers and Clark County Sheriff's Deputies interact at the scene of a police shooting in Hazel Dell on Thursday, March 7, 2019. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A 43-year-old man shot by Vancouver police detectives Thursday in Hazel Dell had a criminal record dating to his teenage years, but his last felony conviction was handed down nearly two decades ago.

Two police detectives shot and killed Carlos M. Hunter during what the Vancouver Police Department described as a traffic stop. Police said Hunter was armed and uncooperative before the shooting.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office officially identified Hunter as the deceased Friday evening. He died of multiple gunshot wounds to the torso. His death was ruled a homicide, meaning it resulted from another person’s deliberate action. The ruling does not make any judgments about criminal culpability.

The shooting was reported at 1:40 p.m. near the intersection of Northeast 78th Street and Northeast 25th Avenue. An officer said shots had been fired, according to emergency radio traffic monitored at The Columbian.

Six minutes earlier, detectives had stopped an eastbound, dark-colored Kia sedan at that location, which is in an unincorporated suburban area patrolled by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Additional police, deputies and emergency medical responders were dispatched after the reports of gunfire.

Police department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said detectives with the Safe Streets Task Force had stopped a known gang member related to an investigation into narcotics trafficking. She said the man was armed with a handgun and uncooperative when the officers pulled him over, and the detectives fired their weapons.

Kapp did not respond to most questions seeking additional information by the time of publication, including whether officers saw Hunter in possession of a gun, or if he brandished the weapon in any way.

Michelle Boothby, who dated Hunter and remained friends with him and his family after their relationship ended, questioned the police department’s characterization of Hunter.

Boothby said Hunter once had gang ties but severed those affiliations to focus on his five children. He had another baby on the way, she said.

“It’s been at least 10 years since he’s been in trouble with the law. His kids are the most important thing to him,” Boothby said.

Criminal record

Hunter was first found guilty of serious crimes as a teenager, according to The Columbian’s archives.

He was convicted of first-degree child molestation in 1990, according to the remarks of a Clark County prosecutor during a jury trial in a separate criminal case about four years later. The prosecutor also noted a 1992 first-degree burglary and assault conviction.

For the latter case, Hunter spent two years behind bars at a juvenile institution in Chehalis. He was out for three weeks when he was arrested June 16, 1994.

According to an affidavit filed by then-Deputy Prosecutor Michael Dodds, Hunter and two other suspects came to the victim’s Vancouver apartment uninvited. Two women in the apartment told Hunter to leave. Instead, he pulled a gun and threatened one of the women. He was found guilty of first-degree burglary and second-degree assault and sentenced to nearly five years in prison. His right to possess firearms was taken away as a result of the conviction.

Hunter apparently was released early, because on May 26, 1998, deputies responded to reports of shots fired in the area of Columbia River High School, according to a probable cause affidavit. A sergeant spotted and followed a green Oldsmobile matching the suspect vehicle’s description until it pulled into the driveway of a Hazel Dell home. Multiple law enforcement officers pulled Hunter from the vehicle. They found an assault rifle inside the car, according to the affidavit.

Hunter told police he went to the school to settle a dispute with the father of his girlfriend’s child, who also happened to be his cousin. He fired as many as five shots into the air after he thought his cousin was pulling out a firearm. He was sentenced to three years in prison for first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Court records show Hunter’s next run-in with law enforcement happened in February 2001. Clark County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a robbery in progress at 5708 N.E. 52nd Place. They announced themselves and heard a woman scream from inside the home. She was found facedown in a bedroom with her hands and feet tied up, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Hunter was identified as the assailant. A deputy arriving in the area at the time of the call spotted Hunter walking down the street, and he ran and hid in some nearby bushes but was quickly located.

Hunter pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree robbery in July 2001 and was sentenced to 164 months in prison.

In his sentencing memorandum, the judge did not direct the state to bar Hunter from associating with known gang members. No other Clark County Superior Court documents mention gang affiliation.

Kapp said the detectives verified Hunter’s gang affiliation through multiple sources directly involved with the narcotics trafficking investigation.

Hunter’s last Superior Court case on record is a 2015 case charging him with failing to register as a sex offender, but the charge was dropped without prejudice, meaning it could have been refiled at a later date. He also had misdemeanor cases in 2015 and 2016 in Clark County District Court.

Hunter was ‘protective’

Boothby said she was with Hunter’s niece Thursday afternoon when Hunter’s sister called, frantically shouting something about her brother being dead in the street.

Boothby headed straight to the scene. She remained there until the sun went down, consoling Hunter’s sister and calming his nephew.

Hunter’s most enduring quality was how protective he was of friends and family, Boothby said.

“He was always telling us to be careful when we headed out the door. He looked out for his loved ones,” she said.

Hunter worked as an information technology specialist, working on computers in local dental offices, according to Boothby.

Boothby said she is confused about why police decided to report Hunter’s supposed criminal activities immediately following the shooting. The comments on social media have left the family feeling hurt and hopeless.

“It’s shaping the public’s perception to justify what happened,” she said. “If they hadn’t done it, maybe people would be more concerned about what was going on that led to him being shot and demand it be properly looked into.”

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