An armed standoff at a Cle Elum business Friday ended peacefully with the arrest of a 55-year-old male suspect.
Members of the Kittitas County Regional Tactical Response Team (KCRTRT) and the Kittitas County Regional Hostage Negotiation Team (KCRHNT) responded Friday to assist the Cle Elum-Roslyn Police Department with an armed barricaded subject at Moore’s Metal Work, 1102 E. First St. in Cle Elum, according to a news release from the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office.
Two employees of Moore’s Metal Work left the business and called 911 at around 11:30 a.m., Friday when another employee, 55-year-old Tom Hester, threatened the company’s owner and was reportedly walking around inside with a shotgun. The employees who left reported that Hester was damaging vehicles and equipment belonging to the business owner, who was not present at the time. Hester reportedly lived in a room at the business.
Hester did not respond to requests or orders to surrender from Cle Elum-Roslyn Police officers, and KCRTRT and KCRHNT responded for a possibly protracted standoff. Team members surrounding the business heard several gunshots from inside as the standoff progressed. Hester briefly came outside several times, sometimes shouting at the team before going back into the business.
Negotiators made repeated phone contact with Hester, his friends and family members in an effort to resolve the standoff. At about 3:30 p.m., Hester peacefully surrendered to KCRTRT members and was taken into custody by Cle Elum-Roslyn Police. Hester is expected to be criminally charged for threats and property damage.
The KCRTRT and KCRHNT are made up of officers and deputies from the Sheriff’s Office and local police departments who are equipped, trained, and supported by their home agencies. These interagency teams are a resource for smaller counties and communities, where not every jurisdiction has the personnel or tools to support complex or specialized operations.