The individual killed by Police during a crowded July 3 fireworks show in downtown Poulsbo has been identified by family members as Stonechild “Stoney” Chiefstick of the Chippewa Cree Tribe based in Montana. The 39-year-old lived in Kingston, with his wife and five children.
Family and friends described Chiefstick as a gentle soul and always smiling; a hard worker but a family man who planned his schedule around his children.
Poulsbo Police Chief Dan Schoonmaker said shortly after 9 p.m. on Wednesday, officers responded to reports of a man threatening people in the park.
“Several officers contacted the subject, and shortly thereafter, a struggle ensued,” reads a press release from the department. “During the struggle one officer fired his handgun, striking the subject.”
Tony Williams, an eyewitness to the scene, said he noticed officers moving towards an individual at the park.
“I saw officers headed towards the area, the guy was hopping around in the woods and then took a fighting stance, he reached for his waist band and that’s when the officer shot him three times,” Williams said.
Williams was unclear where the individual was shot, but noted he saw blood coming from the individuals face.
Another witness, Michelle Welch, said she had been sitting nearby with her family — which included small children — when the incident occurred and contested Williams’ recollection of the incident.
“There were two shots and he wasn’t apprehended in the woods,” Welch said. “He was in a crowd of people right behind my family and myself. Police came at him from multiple directions and he had a long object in his hands.”
Welch said in an interview on Thursday that she believed the man had been shot in the chest twice by the officers at the scene.
“He was bleeding around his face but I believe it was due to internal bleeding as you can see two holes in his chest as they had his shirt up after he was on the ground.”
According to a press release, issued Tuesday, July 9, the county’s forensic pathologist had conducted an autopsy on Chiefsitck the day prior. The official cause of death, according to the coroner’s office, were two penetrating gunshot wounds to the torso and head.
Other witnesses stated that the Chiefstick had been threatening people in the park with a screwdriver. Investigators later stated that a screwdriver had been recovered from the scene.
According to a press release from the Poulsbo Police Department, following the shooting, “the subject was handcuffed and officers on scene rendered aid while they were waiting for paramedics to arrive.”
According to Deputy Scott Wilson, a public information officer with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, no officers were injured in the shooting and the suspect was transported via medic unit to Raab Park for an airlift to Harborview Medical Center.
Lifesaving efforts on the Chiefstick, Schoonmaker said in a press release, were ultimately unsuccessful.
Schoonmaker also said the officer who fired at Chiefstick had served Poulsbo for five years and that Wednesday’s incident was the first time he had been involved in a shooting.
Officials with the Suquamish Tribe also stated in a Facebook post that the tribe would be monitoring the ongoing investigation into the shooting.
“Tribal Leadership continues to monitor the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Poulsbo on Wednesday night, and will be reviewing the outcome of the independent investigation,”the July 5 post read.
Chiefstick’s sister, Vincea Hibbets created a Gofundme page for her brother.
“We did not add a goal because we value any support through this difficult time,” Hibbets said in the information portion of the page, which has raised over $5,000.
Hibbets also notes that her brother had been “battling through a lot,” at the time of his death and that he “has now found peace.”
Family and friends as well as many people on social media are questioning the use of deadly force, especially in such a crowded area.
“Even if he was lunging at someone with a screwdriver, they do not deserve to be shot, that’s why there’s tasers, that’s why there’s bean bags,” said Trishanda Pickup, the mother of four of Chiefstick’s children in an interview with KOMO News.
“Using deadly force is our last resort,” Lt. Kevin Crane of KCIRT told reporters.
“We don’t want to get hurt, we don’t want anybody to get hurt. We don’t want the subject to get hurt. But the subject’s actions dictate what we do.”
Hours after his death the family of Chiefstick returned to the waterfront park and set up a memorial for him.