West Pasco shooter had "mental breakdown"

PASCO, Wash. - One bad day may have cost a west Pasco man his life, Richard Howard was shot by police after shooting at neighbors and officers last night. Police described it as a mental breakdown that resulted in a standoff.

"I can't say anything bad about the man," said neighbor, Michelle Hunter.

Michelle Hunter has lived behind Richard Howard for the past two years, she never suspected he could be violent.

"Every interaction we've had, he has always been a very nice man, always very giving, when my daughter goes over there for fundraisers for school, he empties out his pockets for her," said Hunter.

Michelle didn't even realize she was hearing bullets in the beginning.

"Yeah it is probably just fireworks, then I heard it multiple times, and we have had lot of m-80's and firecrackers than normal, just figured that's what it was," said Hunter.

"They had been going off all week, so that is what I assumed it was," said neighbor, Kayla Smith.

Howard was randomly shooting his rifle in the front yard of the home on Sacramento Drive. An off-duty cop lives just a few houses away. Deputy Jason Erickson came outside and tried to calm Howard down, but the 49-year old ran back into his home and barricaded himself inside. Howard had at least three weapons, firing dozens of rounds inside the home.. And dozens more outside, police evacuated most neighbors while the SWAT team was called in.

"Of course you're scared because it's the unknown, you have no idea what is going on," said Hunter.

"This one is a little more scary because of my kids," said Smith.

Police say Howard had been drinking all day and had fought with his wife and couldn't be calmed down. Just before 11 pm, Howard pointed his rifle at police from the front door, Benton County Detective Scott Surplus fired single shot to the chest, killing Richard Howard.

"I was just shook up, just shocked it was in our neighborhood," said Smith.

"He had medical problems, medical issues, he told us he had open heart surgery and other surgeries, so I know he has gone through more than I have in life," said Hunter.

No neighbors or police were hurt in the standoff and after speaking with neighbors it was just one unfortunate event.

"It can happen anywhere, I'm not up and moving, it's just shocking," said Hunter.

No one else was in the house, Howard's wife left before the shooting began. Howard had no criminal history. This is the second officer-involved shooting in less than two weeks, the last one was in Kennewick and resulted in the death of 32-year Aaron Wright. It still hasn't been determined if the shooting in that case was justified. The officers involved in that case, and the officers who shot at Richard Howard are all on administrative leave.