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Bremerton shooting victim remembered as kind friend, loving father
Hours before Matthew James Netter’s memorial Tuesday, people drove by the Timberland Bank on Bucklin Hill Road where he died, passengers calling, “We love you, Matt” out car windows. Friends arrived at the parking lot to write messages on the pavement, crying.
By 8 p.m., dozens of family and friends were gathered at the site, lighting candles, hugging and contributing to the growing number of tributes.
Netter, 23, of Bremerton, was shot and killed in Silverdale by a Poulsbo police officer July 23 after being pulled over for a traffic violation, the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office reported Friday.
About 70 percent of the office's investigation is complete, which includes tracing the history of the pistol found in Netter's vehicle, the office reported. A dashboard camera in the Poulsbo car corroborates statements made at the time, the office reported. The footage indicates a struggle took place. What remains of the investigation are toxicology tests, which can take months to complete.
He was remembered by those at the memorial as a generous friend and a loving father. He struggled with alcohol addiction, but friends said he was nine days sober on the day of his death, ready to turn his life around.
“He was always there for us,” said Netter’s friend Tyler Lane. “I’m here for him just like he was there for me whenever I needed him.”
Family members, including his uncle Brian Edwards and aunt Mandy Yates, said Netter was a family man, always visiting their homes since he was a boy and spending time with his own kids.
“He was family. Everyone loved this man,” Edwards said. “He was loved by everybody.”
Kim Comer, who had met Netter only a few times but was in the same alcohol rehabilitation program, was at a restaurant across the street from the bank when she stepped outside and saw Netter being driven away from the scene in an ambulance. She didn’t know it was him until she heard about the incident the next day.
“He had his whole life ahead of him,” she said. Comer was one of several fellow rehab participants who paid tribute to Netter.
The Poulsbo officer, part of a multi-jurisdictional patrol looking for drunken drivers following Silverdale’s Whaling Days, had pulled over Netter, driving a 1987 Honda Accord, at 10:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the bank, 2401 NW Bucklin Hill Road, according to a statement from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.
“Although the investigation is in its early stages, a preliminary analysis indicates that the officer contacted the driver during the course of a traffic stop,” said Sheriff Steve Boyer in the statement. “Almost immediately the officer was engaged in a struggle with the driver and shots were fired. A handgun was found at the scene.”
The loaded semi-automatic pistol was found by sheriff's office investigators in the area where Netter was reaching when he was shot, the office reported. Netter was a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue personnel were called to the scene to render aid. Instead of flying Netter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle hospital, which would have taken more time, he was taken to Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, where he died, the statement said.
The Poulsbo officer, a five-year veteran, was placed on administrative assignment following the shooting, which was witnessed by a Navy petty officer who was riding with the officer at the time. The department will conduct an internal review, and a sheriff’s office report will be forwarded to prosecutors for a review as well.
Family and friends said that they may never know what took place the night of Netter’s death, which perhaps was most painful to them as they remembered a big-hearted man.
“He’s touched so many lives,” his aunt Mandy Yates said. “He would give the shirt off his back if he could. It’s a sad, sad day.”
The family is hosting a celebration of Netter’s life from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Evergreen Park.