Who knows what demons had taken root in Wayne Craddock's mind when shortly after the bewitching hour last Friday he got out of his small pickup truck strewn with empty beer cans and, his black semiautomatic handgun at the ready, began to walk toward the Pierce County sheriff's deputy who'd pulled him over during a minor traffic stop.
As he approached the deputy, who was running Craddock's license plate, Craddock allegedly pointed his gun at the cop and said, "This ends here." And sure enough, it did.
The deputy opened fire and the 50-year-old Yelm man was killed. Craddock took his final breath on Highway 702 in McKenna, a hardscrabble hamlet in south Pierce County, once a company timber town.
"We're looking at the possibility it could be a suicide by cop," Pierce County Sheriff spokesman Ed Troyer told reporters not long the incident and said an investigation would be done to determine Craddock's state of mind that fateful night.
Yesterday, Troyer told the Daily Weekly that Craddock's life had turned upside down -- that he'd been jobless that the last few years, that his disability checks had run dry, that his house had been foreclosed on.
Not long before he met his maker, Craddock, added Troyer, "showed up at a relative's house waving a gun, which they said was very uncharacteristic of him. It seemed as if he'd been drinking."
As far as the possibility that Craddock, in the throes of desperation, may have deliberately chosen a cop to be his executioner, Troyer can only speculate.
"That's one of the things it could be, but we didn't have time to psychoanalyze the guy," Troyer said. "I'm sure he didn't want to hurt the cop, but again, we had no time to find out what he meant by 'This ends here.'"
Suicide by cop, also known as death by cop, copicide and blue suicide, is not a new phenomenon and has been discussed in various scientific journals since the early 1980s, in which a individual bent on self-destruction engages in life-threatening behavior with the goal of provoking a law enforcement officer to kill him.
And it is extremely prevalent. A 2009 study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences found that 36 percent of all officer-involved shootings was the result of suicide by cop.
Said Troyer: "We hate that term. We really don't want people to even think about it."