SANDPOINT — A Sandpoint man was killed and two police officers were injured early Monday morning in a shootout on the city’s west side.
Officers Eric Clark and Michael Hutter were each shot twice, but are expected to recover, Sandpoint Police Chief Corey Coon said during a press conference on Monday morning. Brandon Theodore Kuhlman, 28, died at the scene, although exactly how he died was not disclosed on Monday.
Coon said officers were summoned to the 900 block of Ridley Village Road shortly after 3 a.m. in response to an unspecified call for service from the residence. Kuhlman emerged from the residence and opened fire on the officers within seconds of their arrival.
“During that contact, the suspect stepped out of the residence and began firing at the officers,” Coon said.
The officers took cover and Kuhlman “actively engaged” a second time with the officers, who returned fire.
Investigating officers found Kuhlman dead inside the residence and an autopsy is scheduled for today, city Administrator Jennifer Stapleton said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
Clark was shot in the neck and left hand. He was taken to Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene. He underwent two surgeries and is recovering. Hutter, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, was shot in the leg and chest. He was treated and released from Bonner General Health on Monday.
“Both of the officers involved are expected to recover from their injuries,” Coon said.
Clark was hired by Sandpoint Police in 2015. Hutter worked for SPD from 1990-1997 and served as the chief of police in Ponderay until 2016, when he retired. He was subsequently rehired by Sandpoint Police as a patrol officer.
The North Idaho Critical Incident Task Force is leading the investigation, a standard protocol in officer-involved shootings.
The nearby Forrest Bird Charter School was closed for the day. Sandpoint middle and high schools went into lockout mode, which means students are admitted to the building, but the doors are kept secure.
Lake Pend Oreille School District Superintendent Shawn Woodward did not respond Monday to a request for comment.
Bonner County opened up its Emergency Operations Center on Monday to provide shelter to Ridley Village residents displaced by the investigation. Commissioners Glen Bailey, Dan McDonald and Jeff Connolly met with residents, who were offered coffee, doughnuts and other refreshments.
Kuhlman has two profiles on the social media site Facebook. The contemporary profile describes Kuhlman as a rapper and self-employed tree grower. The most recent post, from Friday, references rapper Tupac Shakur, the Beatles and North Summit Church. Other posts make reference to prayer and biblical passages.
The older profile hasn’t been updated since 2013 and includes a post of Kuhlman pointing a semiautomatic rifle at the camera with a pistol tucked into his waistband.
Kuhlman pleaded guilty to delivery of cocaine in a 2009 case and was ordered to serve up to four years in prison, although jurisdiction was retained. When a judge retains jurisdiction, a defendant serves up to a year in prison before becoming eligible for release on probation. However, he was accused of violating the terms of probation, leading to its revocation, court records show.
Kuhlman argued his constitutional rights were violated when his probation was revoked, prompting him to unsuccessfully seek post-conviction relief and a writ of habeas corpus.
The shooting comes less than week after a Coeur d’Alene Police officer was shot and wounded during a traffic stop. Officer Charles Hatley was wounded and the suspect, Curtis Ware, was killed in the exchange of gunfire.
A Blanchard man, meanwhile, is awaiting sentencing for firing on two Bonner County sheriff’s deputies outside his home in January of last year. Deputies Justin Penn and Michael Gagnon survived the shootings. Suspect Adam Deacon Foster was also shot during the exchange, but also survived.
Coon acknowledged that the public has a hearty appetite for information about Monday’s incident, but urged for patience while the task force conducts its investigation.
“Let them do their work,” Coon said.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.