Residents in a West Boise neighborhood near Capital High School wanted to believe that the popping sounds they heard late Tuesday were fireworks shot off by eager Fourth of July revelers.
But David Rithman, who lives off Glenwood Street, recalled sitting straight up in bed and saying, “That’s not fireworks.”
Several others in houses close to Bridlewood Circle said they quickly realized that the popping sounds were gunfire. It was close enough that some hit the floor and took cover in back rooms.
“I heard screaming,” said Travis Oswald, who lives in a house very close to the Bridlewood cul-de-sac. “It sounded like a bloody murder scream ... I assumed it was gunfire as soon as I heard the scream.”
Oswald said he heard bullets striking the side of his house, and he felt one bullet whiz past him extremely close — between his arm and his body. He had his fiancee and her son hide in a bedroom closet while he trained a rifle on the door.
“We thought it was an intruder,” he said. About five minutes after the gunfire stopped, police came to check on the family to make sure everyone was OK.
Boise police said a 53-year-old Kuna man shot another man before firing at officers who were responding to the scene — striking one in the chest — and then turned his gun on himself.
Alan Amundson died of a self-inflicted gunshot, the Ada County coroner said after an autopsy Wednesday. Police initially said it wasn’t clear yet whether their bullets killed Amundson or if he shot himself.
Investigators gathered evidence at the scene through the night and all day Wednesday, and an official said the yellow crime scene tape across the entrance to Bridlewood would remain through Thursday morning.
The victim in the initially reported shooting was hospitalized for life-threatening injuries, but he has not been publicly identified and no information about his condition was available Wednesday night. Police said that man and Amundson knew each other but have given no information about the circumstances that led to their dispute and the shooting.
Shots were fired into the surrounding neighborhood at some point, police said.
Ben Breiding said he and his wife were watching TV when they heard a series of gunshots. They immediately got on the floor and then hustled to a back room.
“My wife is pregnant and due in 8 weeks. My main concern was getting her to safety,” Breiding said. They also quickly corraled their dogs and cats.
Breiding recalled hearing shell casings hit the street when he opened his front door briefly to see what was happening.
“There were bullets flying around everywhere,” Breiding said. He said he saw what appeared to be an AR-10, a high-powered rifle, lying in the street next to Amundson after the shooting was over.
Breiding and others said Boise police responded quickly and did “an amazing job” in a difficult situation. Throughout Wednesday, Breiding interacted with law enforcement officials from several different local agencies, including Garden City police and Ada County Sheriff’s detectives.
“Everybody was so kind and respectful. I am super impressed with all of them,” he said.
Residents were shaken up by the incident, but it didn’t seem to affect their sense of safety in their neighborhood because “it could happen anywhere.” None knew anything about Amundson, or what might have motivated the rampage.
The Boise police officer who was shot in the chest was protected from a fatal injury by the ballistic vest he was wearing, police said. The last time a Boise officer was shot on duty was in February 2004.
“Hearing an officer was shot in the chest last night left me with a deep ache in the pit of my stomach all night, even knowing he was going to (be) okay,” Boise Police Chief Bill Bones said in a statement early Wednesday afternoon. “We almost lost him, but for the great tactics he employed and grace of God we would be mourning the loss of one of our own. I am deeply thankful this morning yet reflective of the dangers each of our police officers face daily.”
The name of the officer who was shot has not been disclosed, but he was described as a five-year veteran of the department. He was treated and released from a local hospital.
Bones also expressed concern for the man hospitalized with serious injuries from the earlier shooting.
“Our hearts and prayers go out ... as we await an update on his condition,” Bones said in the statement.
The Ada County Sheriff’s Office is leading the Ada County Critical Incident Task Force’s investigation into the officer-involved shooting, and Boise's police ombudsman also is opening an investigation.
Natalie Camacho Mendoza, director of the Office of Police Oversight, said the investigation is standard procedure for all such incidents. Once the report is completed, it will be made public on the OPO's website.
Mendoza said she was on the scene of the shooting about 1:15 a.m. Wednesday, within an hour of being notified by police, and also participated in a 9 a.m. walk-through of the incident for the investigators.
Sequence of events, according to police
At 11:42 p.m. Tuesday, officers received a report of a shooting near Bridlewood Circle and North Glenwood Street. When officers arrived, they were shot at by a man — Amundson — standing outside of a residence.
When Amundson began shooting, Officer Joe Martinez, a three-year Boise Police veteran, and Officer Jason Green, a seven-year veteran, returned fire.
Amundson was found dead. Officers then located the initial shooting victim and got him to a place where paramedics could evaluate and prepare him for transport to the hospital.
Statesman archives show that Green was involved in at least two previous shootings on duty, one in 2014 and the other in 2015. He was found to be acting within department policy in both of those cases.
In the 2015 incident, Green shot and killed a man who refused commands to put down a gun that was pointed at another officer as they were investigating a reported disturbance. Witnesses said suspect Michael Kenneth Casper was breaking out windows with a crowbar, and responding officers heard him firing his gun.
In the 2014 case, Green was one of four law enforcement officers who fired at Peter C. See. See threatened to kill himself, pointed a gun at a relative, threatened to hurt others and led police on a high-speed chase. He pointed his gun at three Ada County sheriff’s deputies and Officer Green, and all four fired. See, who was struck by eight bullets but survived, was convicted of aggravated battery and sentenced to serve at least eight years in prison.
Video may play role in investigation
Streets in the neighborhood remained blocked off Wednesday afternoon; residents of the neighborhood near Capital High were being allowed through police tape that morning.
“There’s just a lot to do with that scene,” Boise Police Chief Bill Bones said.
It’s possible that a Boise officer and another from Garden City were wearing body cameras, Bones said. Garden City Police Chief Rick Allen confirmed that one of his officers was wearing a body camera.
“We do know that we have video from one, but the quality of the video is yet to be determined,”Allen said.
Two Garden City police officers were sent to Glenwood and Bridlewood and witnessed the shooting, Allen said. A department supervisor who was in the area arrived sometime soon after the shooting, he said.
Allen, who went to the scene at about 12:30 a.m. to check on his officers, said about half of Garden City’s 26 police officers are now equipped with body cameras. He said his officers are required to wear their ballistic vests if they are in uniform. But during his 23 years with the department, none have been struck by a round.
Boise police were involved in another shooting earlier this month. In that incident, Noel Rodriguez, a Caldwell man released on parole in February, reportedly rammed police vehicles before being shot and killed.
Jason Lantz, Nate Poppino and Kristin Rodine contributed.