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Saturday, December 2, 2023
Dec. 2, 2023

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Snohomish County man fatally shot while slowing traffic for deer


An off-duty corrections officer was trying to slow traffic for crossing deer when he was shot and killed by a stranger outside his home, according to documents filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Dan Spaeth died Thursday evening by his home in the 1600 block of South Machias Road, east of Lake Stevens, a Snohomish County sheriff’s detective wrote. A 22-year-old man was arrested the next day for investigation of second-degree murder. A judge set his bail at $500,000.

Shortly before 8 p.m. on Thursday, Spaeth’s wife called 911 reporting her husband had been shot. First responders and citizens attempted lifesaving measures, but Spaeth died at the scene.

Spaeth, who was in his 30s, worked as a corrections officer at the Monroe Correctional Complex for around 18 months, state Department of Corrections spokesperson Chris Wright confirmed Saturday.

“The agency is shocked and saddened by this loss, and trying to make sense of what appears to be a senseless act of violence,” Wright said.

A GoFundMe was set up “to help the Spaeth family in this very difficult time and the difficult times to come,” according to the organizer.

“Our community is diminished with the loss of Dan,” wrote a commenter on the GoFundMe site. “He will be missed.”

Spaeth’s wife told sheriff’s deputies she was with her husband in their driveway to slow traffic for crossing deer. They were not in the road, she said. She had her back to Spaeth when she heard cars speeding northbound and a “pop,” according to the documents. She turned to find her husband laying in the road with a gunshot wound to the chest and a green Jeep Cherokee being tailgated by a car continuing north, according to the documents.

Spaeth’s wife saw two people in the car and said the gun had a black-and-white camouflage design and some kind of attachment on top, according to documents.

Video from businesses north of the home showed a vehicle that looked similar to a Jeep Cherokee being followed by a light-colored car around the time Spaeth’s wife called 911. The passenger window of the car was open and the car was missing a rear bumper, deputies wrote.

On Friday afternoon, an off-duty Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy was in Lake Stevens when he saw a car matching the description of the one seen during the shooting and called 911 to provide the license plate number, according to the documents. The plate returned a Lexus registered to the suspect.

Police arrived, pulled over the car and arrested the man, documents say.

After police read the man his Miranda rights, a sergeant asked if he knew why he was being contacted, according to the arrest report.

“I shot somebody,” the suspect said, noting the shooting happened the day before, according to documents.

The man said he was closely following the Jeep when he saw a man yelling at the car and hit it, documents say. The suspect told detectives he grabbed his gun because he was scared, and the man approached with nothing in his hands. He said Spaeth’s wife, who was near the back of the car, reached into a bag or purse, according to the documents, and he fired a shot before driving away.

Body camera footage reviewed by detectives does not show Spaeth’s wife having a purse or bag, the documents said, and she was reportedly napping before coming outside to help slow traffic.

According to the arrest report, the suspect never met the couple before and was alone in the car.

When detectives said the victim was dead, the suspect began to cry.

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