05.22.07, 04:26 AM #1
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Church gunman promised suicide and murder, police say
Why doesn't anyone ever see the,
• Gunman underwent court-ordered psych evaluation
• Idaho gunman killed a sheriff's deputy and another person, then self
• SWAT team stormed church at around 6 a.m. Sunday
MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) -- A gunman suspected of killing three people and himself said during a court-ordered mental evaluation that if he committed suicide, he would try to take a large number of people with him, police said Monday.
Three months after that conversation, authorities say, Jason Hamilton shot and killed his wife at their home, then drove downtown with two assault rifles and fired a barrage of bullets into an emergency dispatch center inside a courthouse and a parking lot outside.
A police officer rushing to the scene late Saturday was killed, and two officers and a civilian who tried to help were wounded. Investigators said Hamilton, 36, also killed sexton Paul Bauer, 62, in an office of the nearby First Presbyterian Church early Sunday as 911 dispatchers on the phone with Bauer heard the shots.
Officers who stormed the church hours later found a rifle and ammunition next to Hamilton's body in the sanctuary.
Hamilton had a history of violence, and a judge ordered him evaluated after he tried to kill himself in February by overdosing on anti-anxiety medication. Hamilton told a hospital worker that if he really wanted to commit suicide, he would do it through a mass shooting or bombing, Assistant Police Chief David Duke said.
Hamilton was judged not to need involuntary commitment and was released, Duke said.
Hamilton was arrested on a felony strangulation charge in September 2005 in a case involving a girlfriend he had while separated from his wife. Hamilton was convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery of the girlfriend, who survived, and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 90 days suspended, Duke said.
Hamilton was in court again last Tuesday for violating the conditions of his probation on the domestic violence conviction by halting his mental health counseling, but the case was delayed until next month, Duke said.
Hamilton knew Bauer, who lived at the church, from his job cleaning First Presbyterian for a private maintenance service, Duke said.
Hamilton's wife, 30-year-old Crystal Hamilton, was a janitor at the courthouse, authorities said. Her body, with a gunshot wound to the head, was found Sunday at the couple's home, Latah County Sheriff Wayne Rausch said.
Police found 125 shell casings from two types of assault rifles at the courthouse and the church, Duke said. Officers did not return fire, he said.
Lee Newbill, the first officer at the scene, had served with the police department since March 2001 and is the city's first officer killed in the line of duty.
Deputy Brannon Jordan, a 17-year veteran, was shot multiple times as he took cover behind a tree after pulling Newbill out of the line of fire, Duke said. Jordan was released from the hospital Monday, Rausch said.
The injured civilian was identified Monday by his mother as Pete Husmann, 20, a senior UI mechanical engineering student from Coeur d'Alene.
She said he was shot three times as he rushed from his apartment with a pistol to render aid after hearing the gunshots. He was in serious but stable condition and was to undergo another surgery Monday, she said."Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton
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