by Holly Matikin and Christopher Berg
Kittitas, WA – The killer of Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Deputy Ryan Thompson has been identified as a Mexican national who was in the country unlawfully.
Police identified Deputy Thompson’s killer as 29-year-old Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro, who was living in Ellensburg.
KIRO7 reports that ICE sent them a statement about the killer’s immigration status.
“Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro, a citizen of Mexico, was unlawfully present in the United States. He entered the U.S. on April 11, 2014 through a Laredo, Texas Land Port of Entry on a Temporary Agricultural Worker (H-2A) visa. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has no record of Flores Del Toro leaving the U.S., nor extending his visa after it expired.”
Deputy Thompson was murdered in the line of duty during a gunfight after responding to a “road rage” suspect on Tuesday night.
The incident began at approximately 7:37 p.m., when KCSO received a report of an erratic driver in the Badger Pocket area, the agency said in a press release.
“It was reported as a road rage type of event,” Ellensburg Police Chief Ken Wade said during a multi-agency press conference late Wednesday morning.
Deputy Thompson, 42, spotted the suspect vehicle at approximately 7:42 p.m., and attempted to stop the driver, Flores Del Toro.
The driver refused to stop, and led Deputy Thompson on a pursuit into the City of Kittitas.
Kittitas Police Officer Benito Chavez, 22, joined the chase as the driver exited the interstate, Chief Wade said.
The driver ultimately stopped his vehicle “on his own” on Pierce Street, then opened fire on the pursuing officers, according to the chief.
Investigators do not believe that the officers were aware that Flores Del Toro was armed until he actually opened fire on them, he added.
Deputy Thompson and Officer Chavez returned fire, mortally wounding the suspect.
They were both struck by gunfire during the shootout.
Deputy Thompson was rushed to Kittitas Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Officer Chavez was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was listed in satisfactory condition on Wednesday morning, KIRO reported.
He suffered a gunshot wound to his leg, shattering his femur, and was being taken into surgery at the time of Wednesday’s press conference, Kittitas Police Chief Chris Taylor said.
Flores Del Toro was transported to Kittitas Valley hospital, where he later died, according to Ellensburg police.
The Ellensburg Police Department will conduct the officer-involved shooting investigation at the request of the sheriff’s office.
Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana said that Deputy Thompson’s murder is the “worst incident in my 45-plus years in law enforcement.”
“Last night, we lost one of our finest,” Sheriff Dana said.
In addition to his time with the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Thompson served as a reserve deputy, a corrections officer, and as a campus officer, devoting a total of approximately 15 years to his career as a law enforcement officer.
“Right now, we need all the support we can get,” Sheriff Dana told reporters. “It’s very, very tragic.”
He said that Deputy Thompson had a “great personality,” and that he was “well-liked” by his fellow officers.
He was also “highly motivated, and had “a great future in law enforcement,” the sheriff added.
“He’s impacted the entire sheriff’s office greatly,” Sheriff Dana said.
Deputy Thompson leaves behind his wife and their three children.
A GoFundMe has been set up for Deputy Thompson’s family HERE.