When Mark Koonz saw his friend John Loring at a Sequim bar Feb. 20, he had no idea the man had killed his ex-girlfriend’s father a few days before and the next morning would kill again.
“He would’ve given you the shirt off his back,” Koonz said, describing his decade-long friend as having a good heart. “He was very giving. He was great with kids.”
But that night something didn’t seem right about Loring. He was standoffish, he wasn’t acting like himself. Koonz said he quickly realized Loring was high on methamphetamine.
Over the past several months, Koonz, a recovering addict, was forced to distance himself from Loring after it became evident he’d started using meth again, he said.
“The devil that is methamphetamine changed him inside,” Koonz said.
At the bar that night, the last thing Koonz said to Loring was, “Stay out of trouble.”
The next morning, Loring fatally shot his ex-girlfriend’s 19-year-old son, David J. Randle, who was trying to prevent him from entering their home, officials said.
Ray Varney, 68, the father of a different ex-girlfriend, was found dead in his Diamond Point home by Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies shortly after that. Officials believe Loring shot and killed Varney around Feb. 18.
After the ensuing manhunt led law enforcement to an apartment on West 16th Street in Port Angeles, Loring barricaded himself inside during a five-hour standoff. It ended when a bomb squad robot equipped with a camera found Loring on the bathroom floor dead of a gunshot wound to the head.
According to court documents, the Port Angeles Police Department first encountered Loring in March 2001 after the Ministry for Children and Families in British Columbia, Canada, contacted a Port Angeles social worker about an investigation into Loring.
Canadian police sought to deport Loring, a U.S. citizen who at various points in his life lived in British Columbia, and during those arrests found him in possession of cocaine, marijuana and firearms, police said.
A detective with the Port Angeles Police Department learned Loring had a concealed weapons permit in Washington despite his felony drug trafficking, unlawful possession of unregistered weapons, theft, fraud, assault and breaking and entering convictions from Canada, records show.
Police obtained a search warrant for Loring’s apartment and found a rifle, a handgun, two grenades, seven switchblade knives, a commercial explosive device, a butterfly knife, three throwing stars and assorted instructions and items for creating explosives, according to court documents.
Loring told police he didn’t think his felony convictions from Canada applied to his ability to possess weapons in the U.S., the police report said.
He was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon and sentenced in October 2004 to 68 days in jail with credit for time served.
In May 2005, Loring was arrested and charged with first-degree theft and possession of methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty and received a five-month sentence. In 2010, the victim in the theft case, a Port Angeles business owner, e-mailed the court asking why he never received any of the court-ordered restitution from Loring despite the fact Loring had come into a large amount of money through a trust fund.
Shellie Gillis, Randle’s mother, filed for a protection order against Loring on Dec. 11, 2011. In the petition, she said she and Loring broke up because of his unpredictable and controlling behavior but he wouldn’t leave her alone and was threatening her and her children.
She relayed instances of violence and threats to kill her. She did not indicate any drug or alcohol problems and stated she didn’t know of any guns in his possession.
On Jan. 4, 2012, a woman reported Gillis was being held against her will at Loring’s residence on West Maple Street in Sequim, according to an arrest report. Police went to the home and knocked on the door but no one answered. Since there was no other evidence of a problem, the officers left.
Later, the woman called back and said Gillis texted her asking for help. Moments later a passerby in the area reported hearing a woman yell for help, police said.
When officers arrived back at the home they saw Gillis and Loring outside the home. They arrested Loring on suspicion of violation of a protection order, unlawful possession of a firearm and false imprisonment after Gillis indicated he would not let her leave the house, according to court documents.
At Loring’s preliminary hearing Jan. 5, Clallam County Prosecutor John Troberg requested bail be set at $25,000 but Superior Court Judge George Wood set bail at $5,000 and it was posted Feb. 7, court records show.
A no-contact order was entered, prohibiting Loring from contacting Gillis or going to her residence on Woodcock Road. Trial was set for March 27.
Koonz said Loring was hurt by the breakup with Gillis and reached out to Andrea Varney, whom he dated on and off for several years.
It wasn’t unusual for Ray Varney, Andrea’s dad, to help Loring out and let him borrow his truck, Koonz said.
“He was never openly violent,” Koonz said.
But when someone’s hurt and on meth, he wants the whole world to know his pain, he said.
“He was a good guy and something happened,” he said.
Koonz said he took the news of Loring’s suicide hard.
He wishes Loring would’ve called a friend or that someone could’ve helped him, he said.
“It’s sad someone you loved and cared about was so far gone,” he said.
Koonz said he hopes people can see that meth, not Loring, was the monster.
Reach Amanda Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.