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Police shoot suspect who stole patrol car - Man wounded, second suspect eluded police

By Mary L. Grady

Police shot one suspect and a second escaped early Tuesday morning after the two fought with an officer and stole a patrol car.

No officers were injured.

The incident could leave an already short-handed team of patrol officers short two more personnel. It also interrupted access on and off the Island and to the Park and Ride for all of the morning rush hour. A portion of North Mercer Way was closed, and buses were rerouted. Many Island residents woke to the sounds of helicopters hovering above the scene.

Mercer Island police say the incident began at about 2 a.m., when an officer tried to stop a vehicle for erratic driving on Interstate 90. The car stopped in the Mount Baker Tunnel. The two suspects got out and ran, Sgt. Lance Davenport said.

The officer tried to put one of the suspects into custody, and they began to fight. Meanwhile, the second suspect got in the officer's patrol car and pulled forward. The suspect fighting with the officer was able to get in the patrol car, and the two sped off. As they drove away, the officer shot out the front tires of the car, Davenport said.

The suspects exited I-90 at 77th Avenue S.E., where a second officer who was responding to assist the first caught up with them. Just east of the intersection of 77th and North Mercer Way, the suspects rammed the stolen patrol car into the responding officer's car.

That officer fired at least two shots -- the exact details were still being investigated at Reporter deadline. At least one of the shots and possibly more hit one of the suspects, who was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with non-life threatening injuries, Davenport said.

The second suspect escaped. Mercer Island officers searched for the suspect for several hours with the assistance of other departments and police dogs. Residents in the area were warned that morning to stay in their homes with doors and windows locked. Police did not find the suspect; no description was available Tuesday morning.

Bellevue Police are investigating the officer-involved shooting.

The express lanes were shut down from the time of the incident to just before 9 a.m. so that Seattle police could investigate the initial crime scene.

The officer who shot the suspect will be placed on paid administrative leave according to department policy, Davenport said. He was unsure whether the second officer, who shot at the police car, will be placed on leave or not.

Either way, this incident will have had serious impacts on department resources, especially since two officers are already in training.

``If both officers go on administrative leave, it certainly will be an impact,'' Davenport said. ``We'll be able to cover it. It's an inconvenience, but people will suck it up.''

Davenport said the patrol car that had its tires shot out will have to be investigated thoroughly to be checked for damage to the undercarriage, wheels and other areas before it can be used on the road again in the next few days. The second police car, which has a crumpled door, didn't sustain too much damage, Davenport said.

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