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Mount Vernon police officer shooting suspect held on $1 million bail

Law enforcement vehicles gather near Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash., Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. A Mount Vernon Police officer was shot and critically wounded by a suspect who was then barricaded in a Mount Vernon residence, authorities said.
Law enforcement vehicles gather near Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash., Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. A Mount Vernon Police officer was shot and critically wounded by a suspect who was then barricaded in a Mount Vernon residence, authorities said. Skagit Valley Herald via Associated Press

The suspect in the shooting of a Mount Vernon police officer is being held on $1 million bail. Ernesto Lee Rivas, 44, made his initial appearance Friday in Skagit County Superior Court. He is being held on a charge of first-degree attempted murder.

Authorities say Rivas shot an officer who was responding to a call about a shooting Thursday evening in Mount Vernon. The 61-year-old officer as in critical condition at a Seattle hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.

Court and Washington State Patrol records show Rivas has eight felonies on his record. He was subject to a domestic violence protection order last year after the mother of his child accused him of stalking her.

A “primary suspect” was taken into custody early Friday, following an hourslong standoff, along with two other suspects, the patrol said.

The Skagit County Jail roster shows Ernesto Lee Rivas was booked at 1:55 a.m. Friday.

It was not immediately clear if Rivas has obtained an attorney.

“The suspect who allegedly shot at officers barricaded himself in a residence … and continued to fire shots at officers on scene throughout the evening,” the patrol said in an earlier statement. “Officers from multiple agencies responded to the scene and closed roads in the immediate area. Hostage negotiators spent several hours communicating with the suspect.”

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Keith Leary told reporters earlier the officer had been wounded Thursday evening while responding to the call about a shooting victim and a suspect began shooting from a house, hitting the officer.

Leary said the victim from the initial call was grazed by a bullet and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. It wasn’t immediately known if the two shootings were connected, Leary said.

The wounded male police officer with some 30 years on the job was initially taken to Skagit Valley Hospital, before being transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with a gunshot wound to the head, according to hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg. Leary said the officer was conscious and alert when taken to the hospital.

Initial reports said at least hostage had been held during the standoff, but the latest patrol release did not refer to a hostage.

It also did not provide any more information regarding the other two people taken into custody. It did say that that the primary suspect was known to law enforcement and had a lengthy criminal history.

“He is a violent offender,” Leary had told reporters while the standoff was still going on.

He added that officials don’t why the suspect fired at the officer.

The neighborhood in Mount Vernon was closed by police while officers and a SWAT team were attempting to negotiate.

As of about 10 p.m., shots were still being fired at police outside the house. Leary said four shots were fired at 9:53 p.m. at a SWAT vehicle.

Skagit Valley College said Thursday night that because of police activity the Mount Vernon campus was in lockdown and closed. The school tweeted “everyone get inside and stay inside.”

The shooting comes less than a month after a Tacoma police officer was killed responding to a domestic violence call. Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez, 45, was fatally shot Nov. 30. The suspected gunman was killed by a sheriff’s marksman, ending an 11-hour standoff.

This story will be updated.

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