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Murder-suicide shocks West End community
"Today was a sad and tragic day for citizens from this community," Mayor Bryon Monohon told the Forks City Council on Monday evening. He portrayed the mood in the community as "deeply troubled" and asked the community to "please keep the family and those involved in prayer."
Grant and his wife, who lived in a rental home just off Forks Avenue on G Street, could be called a stereotypical Forks couple. Both were longtime Forks residents. Brenda Grant was a member of the Justus family. Her brother Scott is a well-known basketball coach at Forks High School. Her nieces were sports stars in recent years at Forks High School.
Her husband was once a logger, apparently seeking a new line of work due to the decline in the industry on the West End. Cords of firewood line their driveway.
At the council meeting only a half-full chamber gathered to hear Monohon discuss a heated issue regarding the local cemetery that drew an overflowing crowd weeks ago. Community members in the audience told the mayor that the low attendance was due to so many local residents showing support for the families affected by the shooting.
Standoff lasts all morning
A desperate phone call at dawn began what turned into a six-hour ordeal. It ended at about noon when the couple were found dead in a back bedroom of their home by a Washington State Patrol SWAT team. The SWAT team was ordered to travel from hours away to Forks from headquarters, likely in Olympia, by a request from the Forks Police Department, working in coordination with the Clallam County Sheriff's Office.
A series of calls to the Forks Forum from local residents wanting to know what was going on tracked the SWAT team from Port Angeles to Beaver to Forks.
The morning-long standoff was the result of a strategy of waiting for the SWAT team to arrive to avoid additional deaths or injuries both outside and inside the home. At the time it was unknown if a shooter was still alive inside the house or if hostages were being held, Monohon said of the wait.
Throughout the morning concerned family and community members gathered in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church, which is on the west side of Forks Avenue directly across from G Street, watching the police in action and awaiting a resolution to the tragic scene.
Terse text warns neighbors
It began at about 6 a.m. when James Grant sent a text message to a friend that investigators quoted as: "You will hate me, please take care of the kids and raise them right."
The friend immediately called Grant back. Grant said he wasn't going to be here any longer and hung up, according to the report.
A Forks Police officer and the wife of the friend who received the call went to the Grants' home. Upon arrival, while standing in the driveway, they heard a gunshot from inside.
Backup support was called to the scene, and the Forks Police Department brought in the Sheriff's Office Hostage Negotiation Team.
Sheriff's Detective Tom Reyes approached the house and using a bull horn attempted to talk to anyone inside. There was no response.
A call was made to bring in the Washington State Patrol SWAT team.
Reyes continued to use the bull horn and at about 10:55 a.m., the Grants' two children, a boy, 11, and a girl about 6, came out of the house.
Just before noon the SWAT team, at least 10-strong, marched in formation up the driveway, returning with an all-clear report. By 1 p.m. most of the heavy law enforcement presence was dispersed.
Clallam County Sheriff's Office took the lead at the request of Forks Police Chief Lloyd Lee. At the Monday evening council meeting Lee praised the law enforcement agencies that rushed to Forks to assist.
A negotiation team from Clallam Bay Corrections Center also was brought to the scene, and the Port Angeles Police Department's Special Entry Team.
Autopsies are to be done to conclusively determine that both the husband and wife died from the .22-caliber magnum revolver found in the bedroom.