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The News Tribune
August 31, 1997
Author: Cynthia Flash; The News Tribune
caliber handgun, said sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer. Police found a loaded SKS assault15 assault rifle lying next to him. “The guy would have been ready for a battle if he wanted to be. He chose not to,” Troyer said. This was the second fatal standoff in Pierce County in the past week. During the first one, on Thursday, Tacoma police officer Bill Lowry died of gunshot wounds believed to have been inflicted by Sap Kray, who had barricaded himself in his home. Pierce County deputies did nothing differently Saturday in light of the earlier standoff, Troyer said. “Tactically, the operation went real well,” he said. “It took a long time and a lot of patience.
There was a lot of hours of people not doing anything. … The SWAT team was happy with the way the operation went but sad it ended the way it did.” He also noted that standoffs are not uncommon. “Sometimes we go to a couple in a week; sometimes we won’t have any for three or four months,” he said. “The majority of them end up resolved.” During the standoff at Vanderlaan’s home in the 12700 block of Lake City Boulevard, Vanderlaan refused to communicate with police, Troyer said. He said Vanderlaan’s friends and relatives told deputies he suffered from depression and either wasn’t taking his medication or had taken too much. Details of Vanderlaan’s medical condition were unknown Saturday.
Toxicology tests were to be conducted today as part of an autopsy, said Pierce County medical investigator Bob Bishop. Vanderlaan had no criminal record, Troyer said. The standoff began about 7:45 p.m. Friday after Vanderlaan and his wife of five years argued as she and friends moved her out of the couple’s residence. The argument turned into a fight that spilled into the front lawn, Troyer said. A pair of undercover deputies in the area tried to break up the fight. But Vanderlaan ran back into the house. Although his wife had at least three children, no one was with Vanderlaan in the house when he returned, Troyer said. His wife warned the deputies he was armed.
Eventually, deputies found more than 10 weapons in the house, including the two loaded assault weapons, Troyer said. Because of the danger, police blocked off a five- to six-block area around the house and evacuated several residences, Troyer said. After midnight, when the deputies still were unable to speak with Vanderlaan, they tried several methods to coax him out of his house. First they used loud, annoying noises, threw rocks and broke windows. When that didn’t work, they fired more than 10 rounds of tear gas into the house. Then they launched four concussion grenades, which made a loud noise and sent shock waves through the residence, Troyer said. When all that failed, deputies about 5 a.m. sent in a remote-controlled robot provided by the Port of Seattle police. “After about 15 minutes in the residence, in the back bedroom, (the robot) discovered our subject lying on the bed with a gun in his hand. It appeared he was deceased,” Troyer said. He said deputies had thought Vanderlaan might have killed himself because he failed to leave the house after they sent in the gas. “There was enough gas in there nobody could have really stayed in there,” he said.