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Investigation into Poulsbo police shooting nears completion

POULSBO — The investigation into the fatal police shooting of a Poulsbo man Feb. 8 is nearing completion, and a final report is expected to be forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office in two weeks.

Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said Wednesday that investigators are waiting for a toxicology report and “a few details” that need to be added to the report.

Joseph Matthew Henninger was killed by police after he allegedly fired a handgun inside the Les Schwab Tire Center on Viking Way. His father-in-law, Teiney Carver of Poulsbo, said in an earlier interview that Henninger’s depression medication was changed two weeks before the shooting, from Wellbutrin to Paxil. Carver thinks that may have been a cause of Henninger’s behavior, which he said was uncharacteristic.

“Whatever happened, something happened in his head. He just let the real personality of Joe go and somebody else went into that Les Schwab,” Carver said at the time.

The shooting is under investigation by the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department. Three Poulsbo police officers were placed on administrative leave, per department policy: Officer John Halsted, a 16-year Poulsbo officer; Officer Ricki Sabado, a 28-year Poulsbo officer; and Sgt. Robert Wright, a 22-year Poulsbo officer.

Here’s what’s known: Henninger, a North Kitsap High School graduate, lived with his wife of 16 months, Sarah, a half-block from the tire center. At 5:52 p.m. Feb. 8, 911 received a call from the tire center of a man with a gun. Police arrived four minutes later, according to a Sheriff’s Department report.

Witnesses reported hearing shouting and then gunshots in the store just before 6 p.m. Subway employee Melissa Johnson said she heard “eight more shots” after officers arrived.

“It was like fireworks,” a woman, pumping gas at the Shell gas station near Les Schwab, said at the time.

According to the Sheriff’s Department report, “Three Poulsbo officers were confronted with actions by the man with the gun that placed them and the public in positions of jeopardy. Officers fired shots, striking the gunman.”

Henninger was declared dead at the scene. No one else was injured. Coroner Greg Sandstrom said Henninger died of gunshot wounds to the torso, right arm and neck. A toxicology report is expected soon.

Henninger would have turned 25 on March 8.

Carver said the family doesn’t know where Henninger got the handgun. Carver said his son-in-law didn’t own a handgun.

Carver said his son-in-law had struggled with weight. He lost 70 pounds in four months during training with Job Corps, but then was injured and couldn’t continue. He thinks those factors may have contributed to his depression.

Carver didn’t know why Henninger went to the tire center. In the earlier interview, he speculated that his son-in-law fired the gun — he said it was fired at the ceiling — to get employees’ attention because the tire center was loud. He speculates that firing the gun would have impaired his ability to hear the police officers’ commands.

“There are so many questions,” Carver said. “We have lost a person who loved people and animals. He was not a violent person.”

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