Alleged trooper shooter may face additional charges
WALLA WALLA – Additional charges are under review against Brandon Dennis
O’Neel, 37, of Walla Walla, the suspected gunman in last Thursday’s shooting of
Washington State Patrol Trooper Dean Atkinson Jr., 28. Walla Walla County
Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle said O’Neel could face charges of bomb threat-intent to
alarm and harassment-threat to kill based on additional probable cause statements.
Nagle added there’s no change in O’Neel’s $1 million dollar bail or custody status. He
was formally charged last week for attempted murder in the first degree, assault in the
first degree, and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle. All three charges are
felonies and are enhanced because O’Neel was allegedly armed with a firearm.
According to court documents, law enforcement and apartment management had been
trying to evict O’Neel since Aug. 12. In the initial eviction summons application provided
to the court, Jevons Property Management included supporting documentation including
threats O’Neel had directed towards the apartment manager and law enforcement.
O’Neel also left a note on Aug. 12 to Jevons Property Management that he would
execute any cop or manager sent to evict him. That note caused alarm to apartment
management and law enforcement who would have personal contact with O’Neel
throughout the eviction process. A multi-officer response order was implemented for any
time law enforcement would respond to the apartment regarding this matter or any calls
for service there.
On Aug. 16, one of O’Neel’s neighbors contacted the Walla Walla Police Department
over concerns O’Neel would start shooting if he was evicted, possibly injuring tenants
as bullets traveled through the hallway. Prior to talking to police, the neighbor said he
observed a final eviction notice on O’Neel’s door, along with a note which stated O’Neel
would shoot law enforcement if they came to evict him. That threatening note had not
been on O’Neel’s door the day before when deputies posted a final eviction notice
stating O’Neel had to vacate the apartment by Sept. 22 at 10:30 a.m.
On Sept. 22, law enforcement, wearing bullet-proof vests, went to O’Neel’s apartment to
evict him and summoned O’Neel to the door. After repeated attempts without response,
the door was breached, and a drone was utilized to search the apartment to reduce risk
to law enforcement. The drone found the apartment was not occupied, so law
enforcement entered and found a note fixed to the wall just inside the doorway that had
the word “BOMB” written on it. Based on previous threats O’Neel had made, law
enforcement immediately vacated the apartment and set up positions in the hallway to
begin evacuating the building’s tenants.
The Washington State Patrol Bomb Squad responded to the location, conducted a
thorough investigation, and concluded the apartment did not contain hazards. Tenants
were the allowed to return to their homes.
At 4:49 p.m. on Sept. 22, the apartment manager reported O’Neel had returned to the
property, observed his apartment door had been boarded up, and left almost
immediately before law enforcement could respond to that location.
At 5:07 p.m. on Sept. 22, law enforcement reports that O’Neel ambushed WSP Trooper
Atkinson less than a mile from that apartment before fleeing in his vehicle. The suspect
was located a short time later and taken into custody.
O’Neel is currently being held in the Walla Walla County Jail and scheduled to be
arraigned on Monday.