Bruce R Johnson II, 38

Tacoma, Washington
December 01, 2016

Agencies: Tacoma Police Department Washington

Cause of death: Shooting

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Last updated: about 6 years ago


In the days before he fatally shot a Tacoma police officer, Bruce R. Johnson II was fired from his job at a barbershop and banned from the Tacoma Mall for impersonating a law enforcement officer.

During the run-in at the mall two weeks before Wednesday’s shooting of officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez, Johnson, 38, told officers “he liked police and wanted essentially to fit in with law enforcement,” according to a bulletin Tacoma police sent to Pierce County law enforcement agencies notifying them of the incident.

The day before he was fired and killed Gutierrez, Johnson was behaving strangely and “speaking in riddles” — the culmination of increasingly odd actions over the previous few weeks, said his boss, Damon Daniels, owner of Sam & Terry’s barber shop in the city’s Hilltop neighborhood.

The incident at the mall came Nov. 15, when Johnson was seen walking through the building in a hat reading “sheriff” and carrying what appeared to be a soft rifle case over his shoulder. He wore handcuffs on his belt.

It’s unknown whether a gun was inside the case.

Shortly after security officers at the mall reported the confrontation, Tacoma police sent out the bulletin notifying local agencies that Johnson was impersonating an officer.

“We put out the information because it’s a law enforcement sensitive issue,” police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said Friday.

A guest services manager spotted Johnson in the mall about 1:05 p.m. and notified security, who stopped Johnson to talk.

“The security supervisor informed Mr. Johnson to leave the mall as his hostile behavior was unacceptable,” according to the bulletin.

Johnson refused to leave, and police were summoned.

According to the bulletin, he then bought a cup of coffee and left the mall, grabbing his crotch and yelling, “See, see what they are doing to me?” as he went.

Security officers followed Johnson into the parking lot, jotting down a description of his vehicle and its license plate.

A police officer stopped Johnson on Steele Street. An unloaded 20- gauge shotgun was sitting in the front seat, records show. Police said it was legal for him to have the gun in his car.

Johnson told police he was heading to the gun range and was afraid to leave his gun in the car for fear it would be stolen.

When the officer asked him why he was impersonating a police officer, Johnson made the remark about liking police and wanting to fit in with them, the bulletin stated.

Johnson was banned from the mall for life.

Early Thursday, after Gutierrez was shot during a domestic dispute, a sheriff’s SWAT team member killed Johnson with a single shot through a window after an 11-hour standoff.

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