Arriving officers found a chaotic scene in Federal Way on Sunday night, and authorities say officers twice shot at the suspect, in a stairway and in a parking lot.
Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson said at a news conference Monday that the suspect confronted officers with a shotgun. They fired upon the suspect, Wilson said, but the man fled to a nearby parking lot.
There, Wilson said they found him on the ground. When they approached him again he reached for a handgun, and Wilson said police again opened fire. The suspect died at the scene.
"This is one of the most dangerous ... calls for law enforcement to respond to," Wilson said.
Neither the suspect nor the victims have been identified. Wilson said the victims were the suspect's 25-year-old girlfriend, and three men, ages 24, 46 and 62.
Police were still piecing together information, but believe the suspect shot his girlfriend in the unit they shared and left the apartment. He then confronted two men, the 24-year-old and 46-year-old, argued with them and fatally shot them both, authorities said.
The 62-year-old man had heard the commotion from another apartment in the building, Wilson said, went outside to investigate then retreated inside his residence to call 911. Wilson said the suspect broke down that man's door with a shotgun and killed him.
Authorities first received reports of suspicious circumstances about 9:35 p.m. Sunday.
"When officers arrived there were still shots being fired," said Federal Way police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock.
After police flooded the area and carried out searches, authorities said they were confident there were no more casualties from the shooting.
By dawn, a King County medical examiner's office truck arrived at the scene to pick up bodies. Crime scene investigators continued working. One officer was seen carrying books and a gun to what appeared to be an evidence van.
A total of eight officers fired their weapons, Schrock said. All have been placed on administrative leave, per standard policy, as the investigation continues.
Wilson said the investigation was ongoing. He said the suspect, who had a valid concealed weapons permit, had no criminal history. However Wilson said officers had responded to two prior domestic violence calls in Federal Way and Seattle. Both incidents were verbal and nature and no arrests were made, Wilson said.
Federal Way is about 20 miles south of Seattle.