Tacoma cop killer had been impersonating Sheriff; warning put out weeks ago
TACOMA. Wash —
The man who gunned down a beloved Tacoma police officer had been on law enforcement radar for weeks, according to documents obtained by KOMO News.
Police said Bruce Randall Johnson II, 38, shot and killed Officer Jake Gutierrez, who was responding to a domestic violence incident on Wednesday night. A SWAT team later killed Johnson, who had been using children as human shields in an hours-long standoff.
A law enforcement bulletin that went out weeks ago said Johnson had been spotted at the Tacoma Mall wearing a dark hat with the word, 'Sheriff' in large white letters. He was also spotted carrying a shotgun.
Mall security observed Johnson acting hostile and asked him to leave, in the incident on November 15. He drove away but was later pulled over by officers on Steele Street.
Police found Johnson wearing the hat and a set of handcuffs on his belt. Officers also spotted an unloaded 20 gauge shotgun in the front seat.
When asked why he was impersonating a law enforcement officer, Johnson said that he “liked police and wanted to essentially fit in with law enforcement.”
Security banned Johnson from the mall for life.
That same day, the owner of a barber shop where Johnson rented a char discovered a shotgun shell. He said Johnson admitted it was his.
"I went back to the shop and found a shotgun shell in the bathroom," said Damon Daniels, the shop owner. "It's your right to carry a firearm, but don't carry it into the shop."
Daniels said Johnson kept causing problems at the shop and on the morning of the shooting, he texted Johnson, telling him to turn in his key. He said he never got a response the later learned of the shooting.
"I'm shocked that this happened and quite scared that something else could have happened at our shop or earlier, in the month of November," said Daniels.
This wasn’t Johnson’s first run-in with the law.
The bulletin goes on to detail Johnson’s “history of making firearm threats and intimidations with coworkers.”
In 2010, an employee of a hair salon where Johnson had worked had found his spray bottle filled with urine. The employee suspected Johnson, who had just been fired, as the culprit.
In 2015, Johnson was arrested for 4th-degree assault and intimidation with a weapon after he was accused of driving past a medical marijuana shop and waving a gun, threatening to shoot up the place. He was arrested and released, but found several hours later repeating the same behavior at the same spot.
“Not only does Johnson have a shotgun, but based on previous reports he has a handgun that he carries,” the bulletin goes on to warn. “This Officer Safety provided is for any officers who come in contact with Johnson, to know his state of mind.”
KOMO News reached out to Tacoma Police, but at this time, the department said they had no comment on the matter.