Gunshot altercation between Central Kitsap elderly men remains a mystery

A Bremerton man shot a longtime acquaintance on Oct. 31, but the most important piece of this puzzle is missing: why?

According to a narrative provided by the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Raymond Thomas (Tom) Short, 67, admittedly shot an acquaintance, Robert Roland Sears, 71, in the face with a .22 caliber pistol. The pair had been acquainted for approximately 10 years but had not seen each other for two years.

When Sears, who is from Belfair, pulled up to Short’s home on Chico Way, he knocked on the back door. As soon as Short opened the door, he leveled a pistol at Sears’ head. Just before he pulled the trigger, Short said to Sears, “I’ve got something for you.”

Sears shouted, “Tom, what the hell are you doing?” just as the bullet hit him in the face. It lodged in his spine about half up his neck.

The impact knocked Sears backward and he fell to the ground. Short aimed the gun downward at Sears, but Sears shouted, “Tom, don’t shoot me again.” Short then turned, walked back into the house, and shut the door behind him.

Sears then got in his truck and drove to the Red Apple Market on Kitsap Way. When he got there, he asked a young woman who had parked next to him to call 911. She did, and numerous aid and sheriff’s units arrived just a few minutes later. He was bleeding, but there was no sign of either an entrance or exit wound.

Sears was taken to Harrison Hospital in Bremerton. X-rays showed the bullet lodged in his neck. Despite the critical injury, Sears remained alert and talkative. He said he did not know why Short had shot him.

When officers arrived at Short’s home, Short admitted to the shooting. He was arrested, taken to Kitsap County jail and charged with first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm during the assault.

Mark Briant is a reporter with the Central Kitsap Reporter and Bremerton Patriot. He can be reached at