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Deputies who returned fire and shot man have encountered armed suspects before
The Washington State Patrol has identified a man who was shot by Kitsap County Sheriff's Office Deputies in Port Orchard during the afternoon of New Year's Eve and say that he initiated the gunfire.
Trooper Russ Winger, a WSP spokesman, says that James C. Mathes, 44, exited a residence on Bethel Burley Road armed with a revolver and fired first at deputies.
The incident took place shortly before 1 p.m. while deputies were responding to a possible protection order violation. While responding to the home, deputies had additional information that Mathes had a history of violence toward a protected female victim and was possibly armed with a gun.
According to the sheriff's office, the deputies who shot Mathes multiple times in the torso are longtime veterans. Deputy Kurtis Lont has 16 years of service and Deputy Ben Herrin has 13 years of service at the sheriff's office.
Both deputies remain on temporary administrative assignment, pending completion of the state patrol investigation and subsequent administrative review by the sheriff’s office.
"Once on scene, deputies approached the residence and were confronted by the suspect who had come out of the residence and was armed with a revolver style handgun," Winger wrote in a press release. "Two of the deputies verbally challenged Mathes to drop the handgun."
At that point, Mathes "shot at the deputies with the revolver and both deputies returned fire, striking him multiple times in the upper torso," according to Winger.
Neither deputy was injured in the exchange of gunfire. Deputies immediately secured Mathes and rendered aid while awaiting EMS arrival. Mathes was transported to St. Joseph Medical Center for the gunshot injuries where he remains under guard by a pair of deputies.
The use of lethal force investigation is continuing by WSP detectives as well as WSP Crime Lab personnel.
This is not the first time that Deputies Lont or Herrin have been involved in a shooting.
In May 2006, Herrin and another deputy shot and killed Shane Williams, 26, of Navy Yard City after he allegedly approached them with a machete. The deputies had been called to Williams’ mother’s house in Navy Yard City and confronted Williams, who had battled mental illness and drug addiction.
Witnesses listed in court documents, however, alleged Williams’ had his hands in the air prior to being shot, and that the machete had been moved following the shooting.
Herrin, the first deputy to arrive, said Williams had "lobbed an object about the size of a baseball toward him," according to a report prepared by Prosecutor Russ Hauge. Hague said the deputies were justified in their use of deadly force "as the only reasonable course of action."
Through its risk pool, and over objections from several county officials, the county eventually settled with Williams' family for $217,500. In a prepared statement following the settlement, all three county commissioners, Hauge and Sheriff Steve Boyer blasted the decision.
“This settlement sends the wrong message to each deputy who risks his or her life to ensure our safety,” Boyer said in the statement at the time of the settlement.
More recently, in June of 2008, Lont, Harrin and another deputy were involved in the fatal shooting of John Buckendorf, 36, of Quilcene who died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, chest, arms and legs.
A report by Hauge cleared the deputies and noted that Buckendorf had led troopers and deputies on a high-speed chase across the county before exiting his vehicle with a firearm that he refused to drop.