Motive sought in Washington killings
Six are slain; suspect's mother cites mental illness
ALGER, Wash. - Authorities were trying to determine yesterday what set off a shooting and stabbing rampage that left six people dead and four wounded, attacks they blame on a drug offender who was released from jail less than a month ago.
The mother of suspect Isaac Zamora said he is "desperately mentally ill" and had been living in the woods.
Dennise Zamora said one of those killed Tuesday was a sheriff's deputy who had tried to help their family for years.
Isaac Zamora, 28, was being held yesterday on suspicion of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder and is being held on $5 million bail.
The shootings began close to Dennise Zamora's house near the town of Alger, about 70 miles north of Seattle. They continued amid a police pursuit on Interstate 5 and ended in Mount Vernon, about 20 miles south of Alger, when Isaac Zamora turned himself in at a sheriff's office.
The dead include two construction workers killed in Alger and a motorist shot along Interstate 5 near a rest stop.
A host of questions remained unanswered yesterday, including whether the suspect knew any of the victims, how the shootings apparently continued during the police chase, and how Zamora managed to turn himself in rather than being arrested by one of the many officers pursuing him.
There are eight crime scenes, which are being investigated by more than 100 people from 15 agencies, Leary said yesterday.
"We're not speculating as to what happened," Leary said. "It's too early to tell what took place at each scene."
Zamora had just served a six-month jail sentence for drug possession in Skagit County.
"We're so devastated for the families," Dennise Zamora said via telephone. "I wish it would have been him or me that was killed. That's how deeply I feel about it."
She said she wanted people to know that "my son was desperately mentally ill and we've been trying to get him help."
She told The Seattle Times that her son had lived in the woods off and on for years, was unaware of his mental illness, and resisted all efforts to get him to accept treatment. The nature of his illness was not immediately clear, but his mother told the newspaper her son had struggled with it since the family's house burned down more than a decade ago.
She said that Zamora was "agreeable" and "placid" Tuesday morning and that she didn't know what made him change. She also said she didn't know where he got the gun used in the shootings.
The six who died included Skagit County Sheriff's Deputy Anne Jackson, 40, who was shot while responding to a call from Dennise Zamora. The mother told The Times she called Jackson after seeing her son going into and out of her neighbors' homes.
Dennise Zamora described Jackson as a sympathetic figure who had tried to help the family in the past.