The Associated Press
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) A woman being carried out of a burning house put a gun to a firefighter’s head and pulled the trigger repeatedly but was out of bullets following the shooting death of her boyfriend, police say.
The woman, in her late 50s, was hospitalized for treatment of smoke inhalation Monday. Once she is released she will be jailed for investigation of first-degree murder and two counts of assault, officer Mark Fulghum said.
Police and fire investigators said she apparently tried to set fire to the house in a suicide attempt after the shooting of her longtime boyfriend, 65.
There was no known history of domestic violence between two or any obvious motive, at least “nothing she’s mentioned,” Fulghum said. “It kind of doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
Lighter fluid, white gasoline and charcoal starter were poured throughout the 1 1/2-story house and ignited before fire crews were dispatched shortly before 5 a.m., but the fire never spread much beyond the kitchen, Deputy Fire Chief Ronald W. Stephens said.
Matt Carlisle, 28, said that as he and two other firefighters entered the smoke-filled house, they heard “three distinct popping sounds” which he thought were from exploding light bulbs. Investigators now believe the sounds were gunshots, Fulghum said.
Carlisle said he could see barely three feet as he and another firefighter began trying to carry the woman and her dead boyfriend, whom they did not know had been shot, out of a basement bedroom.
Suddenly, he said, “There was a commotion going on next to me, a struggle between all my crew members and the (woman) … hands and arms flailing about.”
Then Carlisle learned that another firefighter, Damon Semingson, wrestled a handgun from the woman after she put it to his head and pulled the trigger repeatedly. He saw the gun, which was out of bullets, in the beam of another firefighter’s flashlight.
“Obviously, it kind of makes me take a step back and realize how lucky I am and how lucky I am to have a crew member like Damon, who realized the threat and acted on it without really any regard for his own safety,” he said. “I kind of dodged the proverbial bullet.”