Tonasket man takes life after 11 hour standoff

Edward John Thomas
Edward John Thomas

Edward John Thomas, 52, of Tonasket is dead after a self-inflicted gunshot wound that ended an 11-hour standoff with Okanogan County Sheriff’s deputies Friday, Nov. 13.

Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Brown said Thomas told Brown and another deputy on scene to go away and that he “was not coming out unless it was in a body bag.”

Brown and the other deputy went to Thomas’s trailer on Lemansky Road, west of Tonasket, after the Sheriff’s Office got a call at 9 a.m. November 13 from a neighbor who had been shot at by Thomas. When they arrived, the victim, who had recently purchased property off Lemansky Road, reported having driven to his property on an easement road with the intent of posting it ‘No Hunting’ and ‘No Trespassing.’ When he heard someone yell out to him, he stopped his vehicle and rolled down his window. He heard one gun shot, and a bullet came through his passenger side door and lodged into the dash near his stereo.

The neighbor immediately left the area and put in the call to the Sheriff’s office.

When the two deputies arrived, they attempted to contact Thomas inside the trailer. When Thomas made the comment about not coming out unless it was in a body bag, the deputies backed away from the trailer and called for back up.

The Sheriff’s Office then received a call from one of Thomas’s family members who said Thomas had indicated to them that not only was he not coming out, but he “did not know how many law enforcement officers he was going to take with him, but that it was going to be a blood bath,” according to Brown.

Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team (SRT), along with a crisis negotiator, were then called to the scene. Several attempts made over the phone to contact Thomas and get him to come out and surrender were not successful.

SRT members next approached the trailer intending to use a less lethal gas method to evict Thomas, but before they were able to insert the gas, Thomas fired several rounds at the deputies through the trailer. The SRT members then backed away and the crisis negotiator again attempted to get Thomas to come out. Thomas responded by saying he was not coming out, and that he was going to take his own life; and inquired if he had shot any deputies.

The Chelan County SWAT arrived to assist Okanogan County’s SRT team, and a special response vehicle was driven to the trailer. Gas was successfully inserted into the trailer through the trailer windows. Thomas still refused to come out and continued to fire rounds from inside.

After several more attempts were made to elicit Thomas without success, the standoff was ended when Thomas ended his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot.