SEATTLE — The Washington State Patrol says drivers began calling 911 at 6:44 Monday evening — a pickup truck was swerving and stopped in a position blocking the two center lanes on the Interstate 5 Ship Canal Bridge.
“There were a lot of police vehicles, ambulance, firefighters just flying past us,” bus passenger Jonathan Williams said.
Then calls came in that the truck had caught fire and the driver was out of the truck walking south on the bridge with what looked like an aerosol spray can.
As officers approached, they saw the man painting a green circle on the street.
Here’s what they say happened next.
“The subject displayed a knife at our officers and our officers tried to talk him out of getting that knife or putting that knife down. The officer then tased this person or attempted to tase him which had no effect on this subject and the subject continued with his knife toward the officers and they were forced to fire rounds at him,” WSP trooper Cliff Pratt said.
The man was rushed to Harborview Medical Center. A nursing supervisor confirmed that the man died shortly after arriving at the hospital Monday evening.
The incident closed completely the southbound lanes of I-5 at the bridge.
It was the tail end of the rush hour and traffic was immediately snarled and backed up for miles.
“I came up and all of a sudden it stopped. It stopped so here we sit,” trucker Chuck Burton said.
Commuters on Metro Transit also found their ride home interrupted.
They couldn’t move forward and were offered the option of walking the other way but for many that was no option at all.
“A lot of the people on the bus kind of panicked because some of the people were afraid of heights, other people were afraid of being over the water and so the bus driver kind of assured us that the police would secure the scene but a lot of people were just ready to get off the bus,” Williams said.
The good news for southbound drivers, the DOT switched the express lanes southbound so drivers could make it through the scene.
The southbound lanes of I-5 over the bridge remained closed for hours while Seattle police investigated the incident. The southbound lanes were reopened at about 11:35 p.m.