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Two dead in apparent Husum murder-suicide

An incident that began with a 9-1-1 call on the morning on June 11 culminated with the loss of two lives in what law enforcement officials termed a murder-suicide.

An incident that began with a 9-1-1 call on the morning of June 11 culminated with the loss of two lives in what law enforcement officials termed a murder-suicide.

The incident took place at 250 Oak Ridge Road, near Husum.

Margaret C. Baker, 83, was found dead at the scene, the victim of a gunshot. According to law enforcement authorities, Daniel R. Swanson, 46, of Vancouver, is alleged to have shot Baker, then later turned a gun on himself.

Toni M. Stencil, 41, who lives at the rural home, placed the 9-1-1 emergency call to the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office dispatch center. The call came at approximately 9 a.m.

In a preliminary report from the Sheriff's Office, the situation was at first reported to be a possible violation of a restraining order.

Two women -- Baker and Stencil -- were inside the residence when Swanson appeared outside. Stencil called the emergency dispatcher. While talking to the dispatcher, Stencil reported that the man had gained entry into the residence and was "behaving in a threatening manner."

Two KCSO deputies responded to the scene. Because Swanson had served time in prison previously, backup police units were requested. Bingen-White Salmon Police Chief Ned Kindler was one of the closest available units, and he responded from White Salmon.

Kindler and two other officers were approaching the house when the first shots came.

The officers withdrew, taking cover behind their patrol cars, and immediately alerted the emergency dispatcher that shots had been fired.

"It was pretty tense," Kindler said.

At that point, additional law enforcement support was called for, including special response teams from both KCSO and Skamania County.

Units from KCSO, the Skamania County Sheriff's Department, the Washington State Patrol, and Washington Fish & Wildlife officers were among those responding to the scene.

Stencil escaped the house unharmed and made her way to the law enforcement officials at the scene. More shots were then fired from inside and outside of the residence in the direction of the police officers and Stencil.

Within the hour, a trained negotiator telephoned into the house to talk with Swanson in an effort to convince him to give up peacefully. Those talks continued intermittently until the time Swanson shot himself.

"He was allowed to talk by phone to his son and to Toni Stencil, trying to get him to surrender," explained Klickitat County Sheriff Chris Mace. "At one point, he agreed to surrender. Then, at approximately 1:30 p.m., the negotiator heard a single shot, and there was no voice on the telephone."

Moments after the gunshot, Mace ordered KCSO's Special Response Team to enter the residence. They found Baker dead from a gunshot wound, which apparently had come hours before, and Swanson critically wounded.

Klickitat County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hagarty said the suspect attempted to take his own life.

"When the house was surrounded and before police officers entered, the suspect entered a bedroom and shot himself," Hagarty said. "His injury was self-inflicted. He shot himself through the head."

Hagarty said that Swanson died on Tuesday morning.

"As coroner for the county, I have confirmed with Emanuel Hospital that he died as of this morning," Hagarty said late on Tuesday afternoon.

Mace said investigators found two weapons in the residence they believed had been fired by Swanson. One was a double-barreled shotgun, and the other a .380 handgun.

No shots were fired by law enforcement officers during the incident.

Mace said no one was certain why Swanson went to the Stencil residence.

"We'll probably never know for sure," he said. "There is a lot of speculation as far as past relationships, but we don't have anything concrete."

Emergency medical personnel from Skyline Hospital took Swanson to Skyline, and he was subsequently transported by LifeFlight to Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

"It's a tragedy and we certainly sure feel bad for the families involved," Mace said.


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