Everett, WA – An Everett police officer was murdered in the line of duty on Friday afternoon while investigating a report of a suspicious individual.
The incident occurred near a Starbucks shop located in the 1000-block of Broadway Avenue at approximately 2 p.m. on March 25, KOMO reported.
When 41-year-old Everett Police Department (EPD) Officer Dan Rocha arrived at the scene, he made contact with a 50-year-old male in the shop’s parking lot, according to police.
At some point during the encounter, a scuffle broke out between Officer Rocha and the suspect and the suspect opened fire, KOMO reported.
At least one bullet hit Officer Rocha in his head, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The gunman then ran over the slain officer’s body while fleeing the scene in a vehicle, investigators said.
Police pursued the suspect, who was driving a Mini Cooper, before he crashed into multiple vehicles near Rucker Avenue and 35th Street, KOMO reported.
A white van was flipped onto its side in the collision.
The suspect emerged from the crash with minor injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment before being booked into the Snohomish County Jail, KOMO reported.
He was later identified as convicted felon Richard James Rotter, who has at least 18 felonies on his record, KCPQ reported.
Kennewick police said they have had hundreds of contacts with Rotter over the years.
He was being held on suspicion of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and first-degree murder of a police officer with a gun early Saturday morning, the Everett Herald reported.
The Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team (SMART) is handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal incident, the EPD said in a press release on Friday night.
“It is with great sorrow that we inform our community that Officer Dan Rocha was killed today in the line of duty,” the EPD’s post read. “Our department and all its members are appreciative for the support that our community and fellow law enforcement agencies have shown us during this time.”
.@EverettPolice Officer Dan Rocha was answering a call from his community about a suspicious person when the man shot & killed him. Officer Rocha led a life of significance—his work mattered. My prayers are with his wife and children. We must #NeverForget. #CopsCountPoliceMatter pic.twitter.com/7jqESZGMBs
— Bill Bratton (@CommissBratton) March 27, 2022
Officer Rocha joined the EPD in 2017 and worked in parking enforcement before becoming a fully-commissioned police officer the following year.
He spent most of his career working in the North Everett area.
The EPD said Officer Rocha “was well respected by both the community and his fellow officers.”
“His loss will forever leave a void in our agency and our community,” the police department said.
Officer Rocha leaves behind his wife, two sons, and a large extended family.
“Please keep them in your thoughts during this extremely difficult time,” the EPD said.
Thank you to our community for the outpouring of support you have shown us since Officer Rocha was killed in the line of duty.
For those in the community who would like to honor Officer Rocha, we have set up a memorial in front of our North Precinct (3002 Wetmore Ave). pic.twitter.com/BFy5c0YGm8
— Everett Police (@EverettPolice) March 26, 2022
Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman said the agency has established a memorial fund and is planning a ceremony to honor Officer Rocha, KOMO reported.
“He was a great man, a great father (and) a great husband,” Chief Templeman said. “His crew members loved working with him (and) he loved his job.”
Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin released a statement in the wake of the beloved officer’s murder, according to KOMO.
“I am devastated by the loss of our Officer Dan Rocha, a valued member of our Everett Police Department who was killed today in the line of duty,” Franklin wrote. “My heart goes out to his family and loved ones, as well as our entire Everett Police Department grieving this senseless loss.
With honor, we are humbled to have been able to assist the Everett Police Honor Guard with the transport of fallen Officer Rocha to a private funeral home today.
— Everett Fire WA (@EverettFire) March 28, 2022
SMART spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe called the officer’s death “absolutely tragic (and) devastating,” according to KOMO.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the Everett Police Department,” O’Keefe said.