UPDATED: Bedlam in Kitsap County: Trooper Killed, 3rd-Grader Shot, Serial Murderer on the Loose

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UPDATE: The suspect believed to have shot and killed a Washington State Trooper early this morning near Gorst, in Kitsap County, has been found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. KIRO News is reporting that the suspect was found dead.

It's a been a dreadful month for Kitsap County, beginning with news of the murder of Melody Brannon on Feb. 3, and that Bremerton police are on the hunt for a possible serial killer. Then, early this morning, a Washington State Trooper is shot to death near Port Orchard after pulling over a pickup truck. A massive manhunt for the shooter is underway. An 8-year-old Bremerton girl, meanwhile, continues to fight for her life this morning after a gun in a 9-year-old student's backpack accidentally discharged.

At around 1 a.m. this morning, the trooper had stopped a dark green Ford F-350 on Highway 16 near the small Kitsap County town of Gorst and radioed in the location and license plate number.

When the trooper didn't check back with headquarters after several minutes, another officer was sent to the scene where he found the wounded trooper.

"He got here at 1:14 a.m. - four minutes later - to find the injured trooper next to his vehicle," Trooper Ken Dickinson told KING 5 News. "He immediately called for medical help."

The officer was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tacoma where he later died.

About three hours later, reports Seattle PI-com, officers found the truck abandoned about two miles from the shooting scene in thick brush off Sidney Road, but no one was inside.

Troopers, deputies, and other officers searched the area for the driver using dogs and checking residences, said Trooper Russ Winger said. Dogs did not pick up a track, Winger said.

Officers continued to question residents in the area where the truck was found. Three people who live nearby were later taken away for questioning at a separate location, officers said.

The name of the trooper has not been released, pending notification of next of kin. He was a 44-year-old military veteran, and has an adult son serving in the military. He's been a state trooper for 16 years, and had worked the Kitsap area for a long time.

"It's obviously a high priority and drawing a lot of attention," said Sgt. Ken Dickinson. "We're looking for whoever is associated with that truck."

The PI reports that investigators know who the registered owner of the truck is, but it's unknown if that person is a suspect in the shooting, Winger said. "We know we have a registered owner and that's all we know," he said.

Officers later towed the truck from the scene. Police also seized a white car found nearby that belongs to someone who may know the suspect.

Officers also said a house near the location where the truck was found has been raided before by state troopers during a drug bust.

While a massive manhunt attempts to find the trooper's killer, investigators are trying to figure out how the 9-year-old boy got a gun and why he brought it to Armin Jahr Elementary in his backpack.

"At this stage of the investigation, detectives believe the shooting was accidental," Lt. Peter Fisher said in a statement late Wednesday.

The incident happened at the end of the school day yesterday, when a bullet went through the backpack and hit Amina Kocer-Bowman. She remained in critical condition this morning after surgery at Harborview Medical Center. She was struck in the abdomen.

KING-TV reported that her friends and relatives gave a "thumbs up" signal to reporters as they left the hospital late Wednesday.

The boy who brought the gun to school was taken into custody Wednesday after being booked into Kitsap County juvenile detention for investigation of unlawful possession of a gun, bringing a dangerous weapon to school, and third-degree assault.

 
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