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Old May 2, 2000, 07:40 PM   #1
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Note the "poor victim" tone of the article.

"And they do not understand why the driver was carrying a gun and why he had to shoot to kill." Gee, maybe, just maybe, the guy thought he was being car-jacked. Absolutely clueless!

Student's shooting baffles friends
Conflicting descriptions cloud UW freshman's death

Tuesday, May 2, 2000


On Sunday, his father cleaned out the empty dormitory room. Friends gathered in the University of Washington's Lander Hall to share memories and cry. And those closest to the lanky freshman from Bellingham are grappling with how a rowdy Saturday night on University Way Northeast ended in horror as James Sanderson was shot and killed.

Police say Sanderson, 19, assaulted two people and was "acting very strangely" in the minutes before he jumped on a car and was shot by the driver.

But, with the reality of Sanderson's death sinking in, his friends say he was sometimes "goofy," but never violent.

And they do not understand why the driver was carrying a gun and why he had to shoot to kill.

"(Sanderson) always had a huge smile; you couldn't frown around him," UW freshman Claire Holley, one of Sanderson's best friends, said yesterday.

According to Seattle police, Sanderson assaulted a couple of people, then jumped on a car at Northeast 50th Street and University Way Northeast just before 11 p.m. Saturday.

Police say Sanderson reached into the car and grabbed at the driver, then the driver fired a shot.

The driver, a 22-year-old Seattle man, was licensed to have a gun, police said, and was released after officers interviewed him.

Police have not yet forwarded the case to the King County Prosecutor's Office, which will decide whether to file charges.

The strange, out-of-control portrait painted by the police report is completely at odds with the description of a happy-go-lucky guy given by Sanderson's friends and dorm mates.

Holley said Sanderson was a bright student who rarely had to study. He came from a close-knit, extended family in Bellingham and looked forward to having children one day.

Sanderson tutored schoolchildren in chemistry, and Holley remembers him coming back one day and saying, gleefully, "I get paid $20 an hour to be around little kids."

Holley said Sanderson met his girlfriend during freshman orientation last year and was completely taken with her at first sight. The couple recently spent spring break in San Francisco together.

In Lander Hall, students on Sanderson's floor met Sunday night with UW counselors. Regine Biscoe, also a freshman, said everyone started laughing when one of the counselors asked what color hair Sanderson had.

Turns out it was light brown up until a month ago, when he dyed it what Biscoe described as "highlighter yellow."

"College is really stressful and everything," Biscoe said. "But he was always able to make you smile."

For many, though, the reality hasn't completely sunk in.

"It's kind of like everyone on this floor is kind of his family," said freshman Jeff Shelton, who lives on the same floor.

"He's a fun-loving guy, and I just don't see him being violent. . . . None of it should have happened."

P-I reporter Ruth Schubert can be reached at 206-448-8130 or [email protected]

© 1998-2000 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Old May 2, 2000, 07:48 PM   #2
Don Gwinn
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They don't understand why he had to shoot? The guy who watched this "peaceful" person "assault" two other people and then jump on his car and come for him?

These are COLLEGE KIDS. They're supposed to be SMART. Damn, this is depressing.
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Old May 2, 2000, 09:38 PM   #3
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What you guys don't understand is that being a vile sh!#head is now a perfectly acceptable social trait. Respect for others and their property is very out of style so get with the program!

The next time some stranger reaches into your car and grabs you... just give him that ol' college smile and pour a "40" over your head. You'll become life-long buddies!
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Old May 2, 2000, 09:52 PM   #4
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Well, you know, those Columbine kids were a couple of cuties, too. 'Till one day they just suddenly went wacko. Who would have guessed?

Anyway, my heart truly goes out to the kid's family and friends. I don't think he or they realized that violent actions tend to breed violent consequences. Doesn't seem like anybody knows that anymore.

Were there ever any times when nobody messed with anybody else?
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Old May 2, 2000, 10:59 PM   #5
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The poor, poor, little boy who wouldn't hurt anyone.....
His friends and family are making excuses for his behavior after he's dead.....big suprise.
How many times have you bitten your tongue and said something nice about a real Bas***d when they keeled over?
Five will get you ten : he's had a history of being "misunderstood" before and mommy & daddy bailed him out each time.
If this was the case, I'm sorry, but I don't have much sympathy for the family. They made him what he was.
If he was drunk or high on something, then he took a gamble when he ceded his judgement to a substance.

I'm in a BAD mood tonight.

Speak politely and carry a large caliber pistol.
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Old May 3, 2000, 05:58 AM   #6
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My guess is that "high lighter yellow" wasn't the only thing on/in his head !

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Old May 3, 2000, 07:07 AM   #7
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Good shoot in my eyes. Anyone want to place bets on the toxicology report? I predict this "Nice friendly misunderstood student" had at least 3 controlled substances in his system.
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Old May 3, 2000, 08:52 AM   #8
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Quick update on this:

The police apparently agree that it is a good shoot. To quote: "No charges against the driver are expected, officer Pam McCammon said.."

The other interesting item at present is a bit further down.

"Officials in the King County medical examiner’s office would not give the results of tests on the body for alcohol and other drugs."

Just a bit of additional info on the event.
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Old May 3, 2000, 09:24 AM   #9
Jeff Thomas
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Interesting. The guy was 6'4" - an immediate 'disparity in force' for most folks. The second article makes the 'acting very strangely' comment much clearer - apparently he was dodging in and out of traffic, and jumping on other people as well. And, according to the second article, he didn't just 'reach into the car' ... he was on the hood, then jumped down and yanked the door open in order to grab the driver.

The cuteness with the drug / alcohol reports looks pretty consistent with a kid that was really buzzed on something. Too bad the media insisted on doing their best to make the pizza delivery guy sound like the problem. Typical mainstream media BS ... ooooh, if the gun wasn't there, the pizza delivery guy would have just had the crap beaten out of him, and everyone would have been 'ok' ... right.

A tragedy, but if you do the drugs, you're still responsible for your behavior. And, that behavior can get you killed.

Regards from AZ
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Old May 3, 2000, 09:42 AM   #10
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"A tragedy, but if you do the drugs, you're still responsible for your behavior. And, that behavior can get you killed."

Jeff, that is 100% true and (considering my demented youth) I wonder how I survived learning about alcohol. And I'm not done yet!

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Old May 3, 2000, 09:49 AM   #11
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If I remember correctly, there was the same "He was a good kid" crap when the kid got shot dead by the convenience store clerk he was trying to rob. I don't remember the posting here, it was before our various moves though. Hell, Ted Bundy's mother had good things to say about him before he was crisped in Florida.

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Old May 3, 2000, 09:56 AM   #12
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IIRC, it was about 2 high school kids who spent their free time doing armed robberies. The dead one was a football star and fairly active in a church. I believe it occurred in one of the Southern States

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes" RKBA!

[This message has been edited by DC (edited May 03, 2000).]
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Old May 3, 2000, 11:08 AM   #13
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Here's a follow up from:

Witnesses deny slain youth was aggressive
'He was tripping . . . just flying high . . .'

Wednesday, May 3, 2000


Two witnesses to the shooting death of a University of Washington freshman say he was not acting aggressively in the minutes before the shooting.

James Sanderson, a 19-year-old from Bellingham, was shot through the neck Saturday night by the driver of a white Honda onto which Sanderson jumped.

Police say that Sanderson "assaulted" several people on the night he was killed and that he opened the Honda's door and "grabbed" at the driver.

But two witnesses interviewed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer characterized Sanderson's behavior as more like someone who was flying high on drugs, hugging strangers and bouncing over the hood of the Honda driver's car.

"I would be sorry if the world and the public believed that this guy was attacking people and that the driver shot him out of self-defense," said a 37-year-old man who witnessed the shooting at University Avenue Northeast and Northeast 50th Street just before 11 p.m. Saturday. "That's entirely incorrect."

The two witnesses filed statements with the police on the night of the shooting; one spoke to police again yesterday. They agreed to be interviewed by the P-I only if their names were not published.

Police have determined that Sanderson was experimenting with LSD on the night of the shooting, said Sgt. Cynthia Tallman, although toxicology reports will not be available for a matter of weeks.

Sanderson's behavior was consistent with someone who was using drugs, according to the two witnesses. They were walking toward their car when they spotted Sanderson running around in the street, yelling and hugging strangers, including a couple walking behind them.

"He was just elated and thought that he was king of the world, and he was not about to hurt anybody was my take," the 37-year-old male witness said. "He was tripping on something . . . he was just flying high."

Another witness, a 31-year-old woman, said there was something a little scary about the way Sanderson was behaving, but she wasn't afraid of being assaulted by the 6-foot-4-inch basketball enthusiast.

The witnesses saw Sanderson walk across the hood of a white Honda that was stopped at a light at the intersection, but they say that it was the driver who opened the car door. Sanderson only turned back after the door was open. "He just continued his celebration by walking up and over this car, and he would have kept going but the car door opened up," the male witness said.

Within a couple seconds, the 22-year-old Honda driver fired.

The two witnesses said they did not see what happened in the seconds between when Sanderson walked behind the open car door and the shot was fired. Police say that Sanderson grabbed at the driver, strongly supporting a case of self defense.

The driver had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and police released him after interviewing him. No charges against the driver are expected, officer Pam McCammon said yesterday.

Police are releasing few details of the case, which is being investigated.

John Junker, a professor of criminal law at the UW, said that under state law what's important is whether the person who used deadly force reasonably believed that he or she was in danger of death or great bodily injury. "It's not really an assessment of the badness of the defendent," Junker said, "but of (whether) it was reasonable to make the assessment that under these circumstances it was necessary to use the kind of threat you used in order to protect yourself."

But legal definitions weren't very compelling to those who watched as Sanderson died in the street.

"He could have driven away," the woman witness said of the shooter.

The two witnesses were left with the impression that Sanderson was killed simply for making a mistake.

"Should this guy have been shot for walking on a car? That's really the sentence that sums it all up," the male witness said.

P-I reporter Ruth Schubert can be reached at 206-448-8130 or [email protected]

P-I reporter Kimberly Wilson contributed to this report.

No that doesn't about sum it up! If I'm in my car, and a guy jumps on the hood and tries to pull me out, should I assume:

1. He's trying to carjack or kill me.

2. He's just a free-spirited kid basking in the effects of illegal substances trying to share with me his elation.

Now, I will admit that if this was my friend, I would probably be sad and try to make him out in the best possible light. Further, I suppose it's entirely possible he wasn't going to cause him any harm. Just like it's possible the guy mugging me won't pull the trigger after I comply.

But then, the kid sounds like an idiot and wouldn't likely be my friend.

As has been said, If you make the choice to take drugs, you'd better be damned prepared to deal with the consequences. Sorry it happened, but that doesn't mean it's OK to villify the driver as this article attempts to do.

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Old May 3, 2000, 11:20 AM   #14
Glenn E. Meyer
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A little off topic but there are pretty good courses and books about self-defense situations revolving around vehicles.

for instance.

Whether the shoot was good or bad - it might have been avoided. Since when is your door unlocked. Window down when you see trouble?

Note this is a separate issue from what this guy did. Just a suggestion.
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Old May 3, 2000, 11:46 AM   #15
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Glenn E. Meyer;

The unfortunate thing is that question is likely going to take the shooter down in the inevitable civil trial. "So why, sir, didn't you just lock your door and close your window? Then he couldn't have tried to grab you, could he?"

The family's lawyer is simply going to make it look like the shooter didn't take all steps to avoid the final causitive attack, particularly given that most delivery drivers tend to be a bit more cautious with that sort of thing.


[This message has been edited by Serval (edited May 03, 2000).]
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Old May 3, 2000, 12:28 PM   #16
Matt VDW
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"He could have driven away," the woman witness said of the shooter.[/quote]

Driving away probably would be the best response to most problems on the road. But what if the pizza driver had hit the gas while the stoned college kid was dancing on his car? Mr. Druggy would have gone ker-plop onto the pavement and possibly have been hit by other vehicles. Then, after the partially paralyzed for life "victim" was taken away by paramedics, the bystanders would have been saying of the driver, "He didn't have to drive away. He could have just waited there".

I wonder if the guy who gave Sanderson the LSD in the first place is taking any responsibility for this. Hmmm... probably not, huh?

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Old May 3, 2000, 12:41 PM   #17
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It should also be kept in mind that the witnesses were walking down the street and had the luxury of extended time to determine that the kid was "harmless". I daresay that because of the observation period, their opinions of the kid's actions changed from when they first saw him, i.e. assaulting people became hugging people. The driver did not have the advantage of said observational period....the driver, while waiting for a light to turn green, suddenly has a large man dancing on the hood of his car acting psychotically.

Good shoot

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes" RKBA!

[This message has been edited by DC (edited May 03, 2000).]
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Old May 3, 2000, 12:56 PM   #18
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One less retard on our strteets. Funny how the stories change. First he was attackingpeople, then he was hugging them. Firts it was he opened the car door and grabbed the driver then its the driver opened the door... This type of media hype turns these and other situations into a loose loose sit. Had he tried to drive away he would have been hammered for vehicular manslaughter. The driver would have been mence meat no matter what he did. The media nd sheeple have already made up their minds, lets not confuse them with the facts. Yes, he could have had his door locked, yes he could have rolled up his window, Yes he could have taken a different route. yes he could have gotten a better job... All this crap to deflect blame away from the retard who brought this upon himself by experimenting with LSD in public rather than in the privacy of his home. It is sad commentary on our society that we are now looking at ways to change the lifestyles of law abiding Americans to accomodate criminals rather than the opposite. The first thing people ask now days is why was he driving there, and why not just drive away... SAD SAD SAD

"Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes."
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Old May 3, 2000, 05:56 PM   #19
Greg L
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The bystanders instead of complaining should have been happy to see evolution in action, it doesn't happen enough these days.
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Old May 3, 2000, 07:26 PM   #20
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Whether or not it was the driver who opened the car door is, imho, the 'crux of the biscuit'.

Crazy, unarmed kid dancing on cars doesn't sound like a 'good shoot' to me. If the guy opened your car door and reached in for you...different story.

- imho: gabe

PS: I use 'good shoot' refering to how my personal decision to shoot/not shoot would play out. Not necessarily refering to legality.
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Old May 3, 2000, 11:25 PM   #21
Jeff Thomas
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Glenn's point is well taken. At least lock your car doors - it is a simple, quick form of insurance.

And, DC is right ... the other witnesses had the blessing of perspective. The driver of this car may have been taken by surprise, from the sound of things.

This kind of incident doesn't help CCW, and may be used to hurt us. But, I would concur that the driver could easily have been in fear for his life considering all of the circumstances. If we can believe the report, even one of the witnesses (who later concluded the kid was harmless) stated that "there was something a little scary about the way Sanderson was behaving". To me, that says it all.

Regards from AZ
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Old May 4, 2000, 07:35 AM   #22
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The points about locking their doors or just driving away in order to avoid the incident are interesting and similar incicidents have been brought up in other cases. The bottom line seems to be, "Why did the bad guy have to get shot?" I do agree that it is common sense to lock your doors and maybe to try to drive away, but the "what could you have done to avoid the attack" reasoning is after the fact. Once the attack starts, whether or not you remembered to lock your doors is ancient history. There is always something else that could have been done to avoid an incident all down to the couple should have just stayed home, but then their rights are the ones being infringed upon.

The driver was attacked, apparently feared for his life or that of his passenger and simply took action to immediately render the situation back to a neutral status. My personal feeling is that once the attacker opened the door and grabbed the driver, the attacker had voluntarily given up his rights to be protected from his victim during the time the incident was occurring.
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Old May 4, 2000, 09:26 AM   #23
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Just a couple more comments to clarify my own comments about the door locks and such.

First, do I think this was a good shoot? Given the facts at hand, I have no question it was.

Second, do I think the shooter had any choice once things got going? No. Regardless of whether the door was locked, unlocked, or not even there, when someone lays hands on you from outside the vehicle, you are at a disadvantage, and under reasonable fear for your life. The shooter reacted in the only way which would leave him unharmed, and I have no problem with that.

Finally, do I think it could have been avoided? Yes, if thought had been given ahead of time.

I think this is the point that several folks have brought up. I don't think this is criticism of the shooter, but is rather simply reinforcement of the importance of a defensive mindset. Personally I like to examine, discuss, and learn from events such as this, which distance and perspective allows us to do before being possibly involved in that split second decision to shoot or not. It's just training of a different sort to me, or rather just one additional part of training for self defense.

Perhaps a new thread should be opened on this...defensive mindset while driving
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Old May 4, 2000, 09:32 AM   #24
Glenn E. Meyer
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This thread has been giving me a slow burn over the past day. Here's what I think:

1. The shoot may or may have not been good.
The investigation will determine that.
If the driver opened the door, then it
was bad.

2. People who carry guns have some responsibility to understand the force continuum and act accordingly. Training
to avoid shooting might have been used successfully here. So even though you don't
get convicted, that doesn't mean you did a good thing.

3. Posters who display such negative affect to the guy who got shot such as "retard" or evolutionary failure - need to go back to some basic moral and/or religious teachings.
Killing is not to be applauded - even if it was necessary.

4. If the kid just got stoned and was acting whacky - it is a tragedy that he died. Maybe he brought it on himself but maybe those who chortle about his death never have been drunk or stoned and a little outrageous/ Is that really a death you seem to enjoy?

Let's just kill everyone who fails the drunk test when they are stopped by an officer.
Let's get those retards off the street.

I'm a little digusted here.

To repeat the point for those who want to just to a raving flame.

The shoot might be defensible.

People should understand how to use force
and other methods to avoid killing.

There is no joy in killing anyone.

Even if this shoot is good, the shooter
has changed his life in a significant factor
that he might have avoided.
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Old May 4, 2000, 09:33 AM   #25
Glenn E. Meyer
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disgusted - oh well, kill all the bad typists also.
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