NOTE: This story was first published on kiro7.com in Dec. 2016. During our team coverage of an officer shot and killed in the line of duty, a KIRO 7 photographer recorded Kristi’s Croskey’s statement. She was in a home during the shooting. I posted it to Facebook, and it was viewed more than two million times.
“I don’t want to hear anything about black lives matter, because all lives matter,” Kristi Croskey said to a group of reporters as law enforcement lined up outside a hospital Wednesday night to honor a fallen Tacoma officer.
Croskey was the woman inside a home’s basement with the gunman when shots were fired. She hid during the shooting and finally made her way to safely.
“I don’t want to hear about the police officers being inhuman, shooting people or unnecessary or any of those things,” she said. “I want to say the Tacoma Police Department handled this matter with such professionalism despite their own being shot. And I want to say this situation did not have to occur, I want to say when you make poor choices, and the response is someone being killed, if that may be the situation at the end of this night, I want you to know the Tacoma Police Department did any and everything that they could to protect and serve.”
“They wanted to protect the life of him, his family, and anyone else that was involved in this matter. I do not want to hear anything about the Tacoma Police Department did wrong [or] the Lakewood Police Department did wrong, I want people to take a long inventory of themselves and see what they did wrong.”
Saying she didn’t want to interfere with the department’s investigation, Croskey’s words to the media were brief, but they hit a chord with thousands on social media.
On KIRO 7 Facebook page, hundreds of people said thank you to Croskey for sharing her experience in a video that collected more than a million views.
How the shooting happened:
Police said the incident started Wednesday afternoon when animal-control officers were working near a house in Tacoma’s Eastside neighborhood. They were approached by a woman who said her husband had locked her out and taken her phone.
The officers called police.
Officer Reginald Jake Gutierrez and his partner went inside the home. As Gutierrez reached the top of the stairs in attempt to speak with the man, the officer was shot, Tacoma Police Chief Tom Ramsdell said.
His partner led the suspect’s wife out of the house.
Croskey, who was letting the gunman and his wife live in the home until she sold it, was in the basement to collect items, she told KIRO 7 News. She barricaded herself in the bathroom during the shooting and escaped.
Gutierrez was pronounced dead hours after the shooting.
— KIRO 7 (@KIRO7Seattle) December 1, 2016
“We’ve suffered a great loss, and I think the community has suffered a great loss. And I don’t know how to put that into words other than to say that everyone here appreciates the kind thoughts and the prayers that are going out to us. … Everyone on our police department knows everyone. And, yes: Everybody will feel it,” Tacoma Police Department spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.
As officers saluted outside Tacoma General for Gutierrez’s procession, devastated law enforcement officers worked at the scene of the shooting where gunman Bruce Randall Johnson, 38, refused to surrender.
By 4 p.m., officers stormed into the house. Johnson used two children, an 8-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, as human shields.
SWAT officers were able to separate at one child from Johnson after he made threats against the children.
A deputy got a clean shot at Johnson, firing one round that killed him.
Remembering the fallen officer:
Citizens placed their hands over their hearts during Gutierrez’s nine-minute long procession from the hospital to the medical examiner.
As officers opened the perimeter of the scene to the public, flowers were left at the front of the police department. The memorial lays under a large police badge with a black ribbon across the center.
— KIRO 7 (@KIRO7Seattle) December 1, 2016
The Tacoma police chief gave a heartfelt statement for the fallen officer.
“Our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of Officer Reginald Jake Gutierrez. Tacoma Police Department, the law enforcement, and the citizens of Tacoma … He so proudly served, selflessly and with dedication,” Ramsdell said.
“I had the privilege … to work around Gutierrez his entire career. He is a model police officer. He’s highly dedicated to his profession, he’s highly dedicated to his community. And he demonstrated that every day that he came to work.”