Skip to comments.Tacoma police chief shoots wife, kills himself
Posted on 04/27/2003 12:54:50 PM PDT by ATCNavyRetiree
Tacoma police chief shoots wife, kills himself
By LEWIS KAMB, PHUONG CAT LE, ANGELA GALLOWAY and RUTH TEICHROEB SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTERS
GIG HARBOR - Tacoma's police chief shot his wife and then himself in the parking lot of a strip mall Saturday afternoon while the couple's two young children were nearby.
David Brame died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tacoma about 6 p.m. His wife Crystal was in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
On Friday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Crystal Brame, 35, had obtained a temporary restraining order in February against her husband. In subsequent court papers, she had accused him of pointing his service revolver at her and trying to choke her during two separate incidents in the past six months.
The couple were going through a divorce.
Brame, a veteran officer who rose through the ranks to become chief in January 2002, denied those allegations in court papers filed in King County Superior Court last month.
Saturday's shooting happened at about 3:10 p.m., said Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer.
"We don't believe other people are involved," Troyer said. "The victims were the chief of the Tacoma Police Department and his wife. We believe he shot her and then shot himself."
Crystal Brame was in a black Toyota Camry with the couple's two children when David Brame approached the vehicle, authorities said. The two had arranged to meet in the shopping mall parking lot. David Brame took the two children - 8-year-old Haley and 5-year-old David - to his burgundy Toyota Camry, which was parked nearby. He then returned to the car Crystal Brame was in. He got in also and a short time later two shots were fired, authorities said.
NOTE: This story has been updated since it was originally posted.
"The kids were screaming," said Kirsten Oakland, who works in a hair salon at the mall. "Who would have thought? Awful. This affected the entire community in a split second."
An off-duty King County paramedic was the first to arrive on the scene and begin treatment.
"It appeared she (Crystal) managed to open the door and fell down to the ground," Troyer said. "And the paramedic pulled up right next to her in the car."
Neither child was hurt. They were with their mother's parents Saturday night, Troyer said.
George Sharp, a supervisor for the Rite Aid store, said almost nobody in the store actually heard the shooting. Many learned of it from customers and employees coming in for their shifts who had learned about the shooting from news reports.
"A lot of people expressed shock that it did happen in Gig Harbor and the customers and the employees wish that it hadn't happened but they didn't really feel any more threatened as they would if it were a drive-by or it were a random act," Sharp said.
"I think that people are saddened it got to that stage and unhappy that it happened here, and unhappy that it happened at all."
Troyer said one of the Brame children got out of the car and went into a nearby Hollywood Video store. Witnesses took the other child to the store too.
Jesse Hentz, assistant manager of the Hollywood Video, said: "I feel really bad. And I want the family to know that people care about them."
In court papers, Crystal Brame portrayed her husband as controlling and jealous, refusing to let her use their credit card without permission and checking her car's odometer to monitor trips to the grocery store.
She also accused him of leaving his loaded service revolver on a bedroom shelf within reach of their two children.
Her fear increased last November when she alleged that the 44-year-old Brame "choked me and threatened that he could snap my neck if he wanted to." It was the fourth time that year he'd tried to choke her, each time sending flowers later to apologize, she said.
And just before they separated in February, she alleged in court documents that Brame pointed his service revolver at her, "telling me 'accidents happen.' "
She did not report either incident to police.
David Brame had maintained he was the real victim of domestic violence during his 11-year marriage. He said he reported the assaults to police -- first to his boss, then-interim Chief Ken Monner and to an officer who photographed his bruises; then to police in Gig Harbor, where he was living at the time.
Both times David Brame insisted that police not arrest his wife or even investigate his allegations - even though a state law requires officers to arrest anyone accused of domestic violence if the complaint is credible.
He explained his unusual behavior in court documents by saying he wanted to "protect himself" in case his wife ever tried to malign him with false abuse allegations.
Tacoma City Councilman Mike Lonergan, who sits on the council's public safety committee, said he had a hard time believing the shooting had happened.
"We knew David from his professional side. This is a total shock," Lonergan said Saturday. "He presented himself as a very together person, business-like and very likeable. This entire thing is hard to grasp."
Although Lonergan said the usually outgoing Brame had been withdrawn and seemed depressed lately, he had no idea what was going on at home.
"To know David Brame took the action he did today shows that there was a whole lot beneath the surface we couldn't see," Lonergan said.
Ken Bunting, executive editor of the P-I, said "this is a tragic development in lives that, from all accounts, have been troubled for quite some time. These events are not only painful for the family, but for the community and all who have the responsibility to ask the difficult questions about it. Domestic violence is never a comfortable topic."
Paul Pastor, Pierce County sheriff, announced Brame's death from outside St. Joseph's hospital. He said only that Brame had died of a gunshot wound; no other details were given.
"This is terribly sad news for this city and this community," Pastor said.
Carlos Sambrano, a childhood friend of the chief, went to the hospital to support the family. He said he and Brame played baseball at Lincoln High School.
"He never appeared to be a violent person," said Sambrano, who described his friend as a "class act."
Visibly distraught over the news of his friend's death, Sambrano said: "What's this world coming to."
There is a strong bias in favor of women in these cases, and it is clear from the article that he knew it.
Nothing justifies his actions, but I just wonder. I knew a man in somewhat simular circumstances whose family was being destroyed. It appeared that he and his wife were whistle blowers, and the county attorney was using the Lautenberg law to destroy them.
His wife made the stupendous mistake of calling the police, (probably had watched too much TV) apparently to intimidate her husband after an argument. Once the police were called, it was totally out of her hands. The attorney for the husband believed that the wife was threatened with the loss of her children if she didn't come up with the desired statements to convict the husband. The wife was pressured into requesting a restraining order (she was a Mexican national). With the restraining order, the husband had no where to live, and no communications with the wife. The prosecutor's office kept asking for delay after delay, which had the effect of gradually eroding the funds the husband had borrowed from his parents for his defense. It was a very bad scene.
So, I just wonder.
He thinks. Doesn't sound to me like he thinks much at all. That wussy, PC statement makes me sick.
Restratinging orders are useless anyway. You're more likely to be dead long before the police respond. And when the plaintiff is the police chief...forget it.
I pray she pulls through.
The man lost it. No screwed up court system causes this. Good grief.
Well said. It is an industry, and it IS evil. I've known of so many cases where a couple split up, and if left to their own devices would probably have gone the no fault route and even maintained some sort of 'friendly' working relationship for the sake of their children who are the only real victims.
As soon as a LAYWER gets involved, expecially when he smells a practically unlimited amound of funds to be gained from dragging the case out for years and years and years, the MISERY compounded by this evil, greedy individual is incalculable. Corrupt, greedy lawyers give all lawyers a bad name.
I pray for her sake and the childrens' sake that she pulls through without lasting physical damage.
It's just awful those poor kids had to experience this.