Tacoma, Wash., Police Chief David Brame, 44, shot his wife in the head in a mall parking lot before fatally shooting himself. Their children, ages 8 and 5, were sitting in a nearby car.
The shootings occurred a day after abuse accusations in the couple’s divorce case appeared in local newspapers. Crystal Brame, 35, filed for divorce from Chief Brame in February, alleging years of emotional and physical abuse. Brame contended that his wife had been the abusive one and that she was emotionally unstable and was trying to destroy his career.
Tacoma police officials say there was no outward indication that Brame was abusive or suicidal. New acting chief Catherine Woodard says that under Brame’s leadership the department did not tolerate domestic violence, within the agency or the community. “All of us together didn’t see any warning signs. There just were none,” Woodard says. “We were just shocked.”
The chief had been dealing with a departmental audit, said Mayor Bill Baarsma of Tacoma, but he didn’t see evidence of any deeper problems.
Pierce County sheriff’s detectives are pursuing reports that Brame may have indicated an intention to commit suicide in the hours before the shootings.
According to what the couple’s children have said, their parents met in the mall parking lot in Gig Harbor, where their mother was living, by chance. The children were left in David Brame’s car while he and Crystal Brame sat in her car and argued. Then David Brame shot his wife and then shot and killed himself. At one point, his wife is said to have tried to crawl out of the car. She was found on the pavement beside her vehicle.
Crystal Brame has been upgraded to serious condition, but still remains comatose and on life support. The Brames’ children are reportedly staying with their mother’s parents.
The Gig Harbor Police Department is working with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office on the case.