Community mourns after deputy wounded in ambush dies


by KING Staff

Posted on December 28, 2009 at 5:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 29 at 3:19 PM

SEATTLE –  The law enforcement community is mourning another loss after Pierce County Sheriff's Deputy Kent Mundell, critically wounded in a shootout a week ago, died Monday night.

Mundell's family was at his side Monday evening at Harborview Medical Center when doctors turned off life support. Officials say Dep. Mundell passed quickly and died at 5:04 p.m.

Dozens of deputies and police officers from at least six law enforcement agencies filed into Harborview Monday afternoon in the hours before Mundell died. 

"Obviously everyone was waiting for a miracle that didn't come. Time made it's decision and the decision was that he wasn't going to live," said Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Det. Ed Troyer.

Troyer said when doctors made it clear that there was no longer any hope, the deputy's wife,16-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son shared one family moment together before taking Mundell off life support.

"He passed away with his family, his wife by his side, the last few minutes doing story time with his kids," said Troyer.

In a somber show of honor and respect, the officers lined the hallways of the hospital to personally escort Mundell's body to the Medical Examiner's Office. 

Deputy Mundell's body will be escorted back to Pierce County Tuesday afternoon. A motorcade will leave the Medical Examiner's office at 2 p.m. and head southbound on Interstate 5 to the 74th Street exit. It will take South Tacoma Way, take a right on Steilacoom Boulevard to Mountain View Funeral Home. Citizens are encouraged to line the route to pay their respects.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor says his department's loss is the community's loss.

"We should all be thankful that there are people who are willing to step forward and put themselves at risk for us. That is the kind of loss we have today," said Pastor.

Gov. Gregoire has ordered flags at all state agencies to be flown at half-staff for the next week for Dep. Mundell.

"My thoughts and prayers tonight are with the family of Deputy Kent Mundell." said Gregoire in a statement. "Words can't express the profound sadness that my husband Mike and I feel, along with our daughters Michelle and Courtney and our son-in-law Scott. Our hearts reach out to his family, friends, colleagues, and community that Deputy Mundell proudly served. Though his life was cut far too short by this act of violence, his memory will live on in the many people he protected and served. I stand with law enforcement from across the state as we honor this fallen hero."

Mundell and Sgt. Nicholas Hausner were shot Dec. 21 while responding to a domestic violence call. When the deputies tried to get the suspect, David Crable, to leave his brother's home, he opened fire on them.

Hausner was hit in the neck. Crable's brother and his girlfriend pulled Hausner into another room and barricaded the door.

Detectives say Mundell and Crable then were in a shootout. Crable's daughter fought with Crable to wrestle the gun away. Mundell shot Crable, killing Crable and possibly saving his partner.

Mundell was hit multiple times at close range. He was on life support at Harborview Medical Center for nearly a week. Hausner was released from Madigan Army Hospital Christmas Eve. He went straight to Harborview to check on Mundell before returning home.

Mundell is the sixth Western Washington law enforcement officer killed by gunfire in the last two months.

On Oct. 31, Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton was shot and killed while sitting in his patrol car. The suspect, Christopher Monfort, has pleaded not guilty to the murder.

On Nov. 29, four Lakewood, Wash. police officers were ambushed in a Parkland coffee shop and killed. Suspect Maurice Clemmons was shot and killed two days later by a Seattle police officer.

Growing memorial for Deputy Mundell in Puyallup

While Deputy Kent Mundell was on life support, there was a tremendous outpouring of public hope, which has now turned into rememberance.

Many people came to find solace in a simple, somber vigil Monday night as candles were lightning a dark and cold Pierce County night in Puyallup.

In front of the memorial to the county's fallen deputies, members of the Graham Fire Department and the community at large gathered to remember Mundell.

"I see people not in uniform, saying the knew Kent Mundell. And it's not because of the uniform that they probably knew them. It's probably because of what he did when he wasn't wearing the uniform," said one participant.

"We felt it was important to show respect, and to know that he was important and to know that the work that he did helps not just Pierce County but the whole area," said Michelle Stidham, resident.

In nearby Spanaway, the deputy's neighbors remembered a good father, a good friend, and a good cop.

"We've been praying for Kent hoping that he would make it through," said Jennifer Schwenn, neighbor. "It's just been one of those things hearing he is on life support wondering if that would be the case and we'd keep our fingers crossed. Definitely sad for his family - my heart's breaking for the kids and his wife."

Back at the South Hill precinct, plans are to continue this remembrance each evening – a reminder of how fragile life is.

"We'd like to say it would never happen again, but we know that's not the case," said Verne Pierson, Graham Fire Commissioner. "And sooner or later it will happen again some place, and we pray that it's not somebody close to us."

Deputy memorial, fund for family

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office says Deputy Mundell's funeral is tentatively planned for next Tuesday, January 5, and will likely be at the Tacoma Dome. More details will come.

Several funds hav been set up for the Mundell family. Anyone wishing to make a contribution may do so at any branch of Columbia Bank. The Pierce County Deputy Sheriffs Guild is accepting donations on their Web site.  Tapco Credit Union has also set up an account, which can accept donation at any of their locations, or online.

The sheriff's department tells The News Tribune it has already gotten complaints from citizens about bogus companies calling them trying to solicit donations for the Mundell family. Troyer says the department does not support those companies and that you should not give any money over the phone.

Cards to the family or Police Department may be sent to Family of Deputy Kent Mundell or Pierce County Sheriff's Department, Mountain Detachment, P.O. Box 1489, Eatonville, WA 98328.