Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Roger Harnack

Investigators identify law enforcement, subject in fatal shooting

Report says Ritzville officer shot man who advanced on him swinging a machete


Katie Teachout/The Ritzville-Adams County Journal

Paint marks an evidentiary spot of a person or item in the parking lot where motorist Shawn Lee was shot Saturday night.

RITZVILLE - The Columbia Basin Investigative Team has identified the man shot and killed by police Saturday night as Shawn Lee.

Lee, 49, hometown not released, was shot in the parking lot of Love's Travel Stop and Country Stores, 1370 N. state Highway 261, by officer Jeff Lane, said a report on the shooting released this morning.

Lane is on paid administrative leave, standard operating procedure for an officer involved in a shooting.

According to the report, Lee was passing through Ritzville with a family member when his vehicle broke down and was towed back to Loves.

Dispatchers received three calls about Lee, including two he made personally, the report said, noting Lee's calls included allegations of being tracked and his pickup bugged.

Law enforcement also received calls from Lee's family members saying he was suicidal and in possession of a "sword."

When initially contacted by law enforcement, Lee denied the allegations and the family member with him said the situation was under control, the report said, noting officers left.

At approximately 11:30 p.m., the same family member went into Love's and asked for help, the report said.

Lane and Washington State Patrol Trooper Nathaniel Romaneschi responded.

Arriving on scene, they spoke with the family member in the parking lot, the report said. Shortly after officers arrived, Lee exited a parked car and allegedly began swinging a machete aggressively.

Lane and Romaneschi directed Lee to drop the machete as the family member intervened, the report said.

But Lee advanced and Lane fired his Taser, which had no effect on Lee, the report said. Lee allegedly continued to advance and swing the machete.

That's when Lane used his firearm at a range of approximately 10 feet, with the bullet striking Lee, the report said.

Lee dropped the machete and dropped to the ground, the report said.

Romaneschi and Lane called for an ambulance and administered first aid, the report said.

Lee was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the report said.

The shooting remains under investigation by the team, which includes law enforcement officers from Grant and Adams counties and two neutral community members.

Investigators said most of the incident was captured on the dash camera of one of the law enforcement vehicles.

That video has yet to be released publicly, as is required under the state Open Public Records Act.

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 5092356184
Twitter: @RogerHarnack


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