Police: Shooting suspect says he was in alcoholic blackout
SEATTLE (AP) — A man accused of randomly shooting at cars and a public bus in Seattle, leaving two people dead and two injured, told police afterward that he was in an alcoholic blackout and didn't remember doing it, authorities said in court documents Friday.
Tad-Michael Norman, 33, was charged in King County Superior Court with two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder in the Wednesday afternoon rampage. He was being held without bail. It was not immediately clear if he had obtained a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.
"The defendant's actions - purposely firing a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol at five random members of the community on a public street, killing two and wounding two others - demonstrate the extreme danger he poses to the community," senior deputy prosecutor Scott O'Toole wrote in charging papers. "Taking at face value his claim to detectives that he has no recollection of the events leading up to and including the shooting only heightens the danger he poses."
According to a probable cause statement by Seattle Police Detective Alan Cruise, Norman told investigators he went to a Fred Meyer grocery store earlier in the day and bought vodka, rum and wine. He began drinking at about 12:30 p.m., about 3½ hours before the shootings, and he remembered playing video games, but after that he recalled nothing until he was being treated for minor injuries at Harborview Medical Center on Wednesday night, the statement said.
"He described the nature of his alcohol abuse as blackout drinking," Cruise wrote. "Detectives recounted a summary of what we believed happened including him shooting 3 people, carjacking a vehicle and being involved in (a) serious vehicle collision," Cruise wrote. "Norman said he has no memory of any of that."
According to police, Norman walked into the street in front of his home in northeast Seattle and fired at a car driven by Julie Blair, who was not injured. Her car was struck twice. Blair said that as she drove away she could see him firing at another car.
Schoolteacher Deborah Judd told reporters in her hospital room Thursday that she had been driving home from a staff meeting — "zipping along, I think I was eating Cheez-Its" — when she saw a man in the middle of the road shooting at her. She was struck in the arm, shoulder and lung, she said. She remained in satisfactory condition Friday.
Bus driver Eric Stark said the gunman fired into his windshield, striking him in the chest. After taking stock of his injuries and hitting an emergency alert, Stark managed to reverse the bus away and turn it around, getting his passengers to safety. He told reporters from his hospital bed Friday that the shooter "didn't seem panicked or crazy."
"Just seemed really calm, like he was shooting paper target at a range," Stark said.
Police said Norman then shot and killed another driver — Robert M. Hassan, 76 — and fled in Hassan's car, crashing head-on into another vehicle. That vehicle's driver, Richard T. Lee, 75, was killed.
Hassan was a retired physician and Air Force colonel, his brother told The Seattle Times.
Norman did not appear to have any criminal history in Washington state. He was a vendor with Microsoft, and his contract ended last year, a company representative said.