Prolific offender arrested following fatal shooting of Everett police officer

Police arrested 50-year-old Richard James Rotter, a prolific offender with a decades-long felony record.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA

While still in mourning for a fallen sheriff's deputy, Washington state law enforcement suffered another devastating loss.

Everett Police officer Dan Rocha was shot and killed Friday afternoon by a suspect who then ran over his body while fleeing the scene in a car.

According to the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, Rocha confronted a man in a Starbucks parking lot at approximately 2 pm Friday following reports of "suspicious activity." The suspect fired several shots, then climbed into a Mini Cooper and ran over Rocha's body while fleeing the scene.

Investigators believe Rocha died from his gunshot wounds.

A few minutes later, the Mini Cooper collided in a three-vehicle crash that left a white van rolled over about 2½ miles away from the fatal shooting.

According to the Everett Herald, Rocha was a regular at the Starbucks where he was killed. On Saturday, the store was closed, and a framed photo of the officer was placed on the sidewalk surrounded by flowers, candles, and American flags.

Rocha, 41, a husband and father of two sons, had been with the force since 2017. Rocha was born in Santa Barbara, California, and raised in Las Vegas. He moved with his family to Everett in 2011.

The shooting occurred at the same time a memorial was being held for a Pierce County Sheriff's deputy, 35-year-old Dominique "Dom" Calata, who was killed March 16 in the line of duty during a shootout with a suspect.

An officer from the Seattle Police Department told The Post Millennial, "I knew something was wrong when Snohomish County deputies had to leave the funeral early."

Police arrested the suspect, 50-year-old Richard James Rotter, of Kennewick, a prolific offender with a decades-long felony record, and booked him into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree murder of a police officer with a gun and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

According to the Lynnwood Times, Rotter's criminal history dates back to juvenile cases related to drugs in the 1980s, with felony charges as early as 1988. Over his decades-long criminal career, in 2013, 2016, and 2019, Rotter had been convicted of attempting to evade police. In the most recent case, a judge sentenced him to only one year and a day in prison, the Everett Herald reported.

Some of the other charges over Rotter's criminal history included domestic violence assault in 2009, bail jumping in 2009, resisting arrest in 2010, obstructing a public servant in 2010, and bail jumping in 2013, as well as numerous charges related to drugs and alcohol.

As a convicted felon, Rotter was not permitted to have a firearm. An investigation is still ongoing as to the circumstances that led to the shooting.

Everett Community College, which is located near the scene and went into a brief lockdown during the incident, released a statement Saturday, which said in part, "At the time of his death, he was working to prevent danger near the doorsteps of two of our student housing buildings with hundreds of EvCC students and employees inside. We are grateful for his protection, and we stand with Officer Rocha’s wife, two sons, extended family and his fellow officers in their grief. From the entire Trojan Nation, our hearts are with you. Our college honors your service and remembers your sacrifice. Flags at EvCC have been lowered to half-mast in your memory."

Saturday morning, local law enforcement officers joined a motorcade for Rocha, which transported the officer's body to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office. Officers and police departments around the country changed their profile pictures on social media accounts to pictures of Rocha's badge.

Police Chief Dan Templeman said in a city of Everett leadership statement released Saturday: "He was well-liked, highly respected by his co-workers and truly loved serving our residents. There are no words to make sense of this tragedy or to ease the pain for Officer Rocha’s grieving family. Officer Rocha was a loving husband and father and a role model for his two sons. They should be very proud of their dad, as he gave the ultimate sacrifice protecting our community."

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said in a statement to the Everett Herald Friday: "I am devastated by the loss of Officer Dan Rocha, a valued member of our Everett Police Department who was killed today in the line of duty. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones, as well as our entire Everett Police Department grieving this senseless loss. Our police officers bravely put themselves in harm’s way to keep every one of us safe. When one of our heroes falls, it causes a ripple of grief felt by our entire community. We are heartbroken, and honor Officer Rocha’s memory, legacy, and ultimate sacrifice in service to our City."

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers paid tribute in a statement. "Our hearts ache for the family, friends, and colleagues of the fallen officer," the statement read. "On behalf of Snohomish County, we offer our deepest condolences to the entire community shaken by this loss of life and those police officers who will be out keeping our community safe, even under the shadow of this tragedy. We will provide any support the City of Everett needs and call on everyone to take a moment to honor the people who are here to serve and protect."

The last Everett police officer killed in the line of duty was in 1999.

Outside Everett's north precinct, a squad car and a photo of the fallen officer was placed as a temporary memorial to Rocha. Hundreds visited the memorial to pay tribute to the fallen officer, leaving behind flowers, candles, American flags, ribbons, and more offerings.


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