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Munich v. Skagit Emergency Communications Center, et al.

Bill Munich was gunned down after making two 911 calls. His family was paid a $2.3 million settlement from Skagit County and Skagit 911.
Bill Munich was gunned down after making two 911 calls. His family was paid a $2.3 million settlement from Skagit County and Skagit 911.

“Innocence does not find near so much protection as guilt” ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Bill Munich was on his property when neighbor Marvin Ballsmider started firing gunshots at him. Bill called 911 and listened to the dispatcher, who had told him that help was on its way. Unbeknownst to Bill, the call was not coded as a priority one emergency call. The deputy’s car traveled without picking up speed and without sirens. Bill was shot dead minutes before the Skagit Co. officers arrived at the scene.

Bill was 63 years old the day he was fatally shot on the side of a Skagit County road waiting for law enforcement to arrive.  Bill is survived by his wife Gaye, his son Hans, and his daughter Heidi.  Bill and Gaye were married for 40 years at the time of his death.

A pilot and entrepreneur, he ran a well drilling company on the San Juan Islands.  He was also an inventor and a respected member of the San Juan Islands’ community. Bill’s three granddaughters and grandson adored Bill.

Bill Munich’s first call for help to Skagit 911

On October 1, 2005, Bill Munich flew his float plane to property that he and his wife, Gaye, owned on Lake Campbell. Other than a couple of sheds, the only structure on the property was a garage, which had three vehicles in it – a Suzuki vehicle, a Subaru station wagon, and a pickup truck. The keys were in the vehicles.

In the afternoon, Bruce, a friend of Bill Munich’s, went to the Munich property to visit. Bruce left about 3:30 p.m.

A few minutes before 6:00 p.m., Bill called Bruce at home and told him that he had just “had the hell scared out of him.” Bill explained to Bruce that he had been walking down to his float plane and saw his neighbor, Marvin Ballsmider, standing at the fence line with a gun, and that Ballsmider pointed the gun in his direction and fired. Bruce told Bill to “get the Sheriff out there,” and to get out of the area and call him back. Bill told Bruce he did not know how to reach the Sheriff’s office. Bruce told him to call 911, and they would handle it.

Bill then called 911. A Skagit 911 dispatcher took the call, which came in at 6:00 p.m.

Bill told the 911 dispatcher that he “just had a guy point a rifle” at him and “then he shot.” He told the dispatcher that Ballsmider was “an alcoholic. . . . I mean he’s just a wipe out.” He told the dispatcher that when Ballsmider shot the rifle, “he was aiming it directly” at him about 25 feet away. He told the 911 person that he was “rattled.” He told her that he did not know where Ballsmider was because he could not see him from inside the garage.

The dispatcher coded the call as a weapons offense “Priority Two,” despite the fact that Bill had every reason to fear for his life. Meanwhile, the Skagit County 911 dispatcher reassured Bill that a deputy was on his way.

Bill Munich’s Second Call for Help to Skagit 911

About seven minutes after the first 911 call ended, Bill Munich called 911 again and said that he was on Highway 20, running away from Ballsmider, who was shooting at him. Another person took the 911 call took the second call. Bill told her that Ballsmider had come into his garage.

The call ended with Bill Munich being fatally shot by Ballsmider on Highway 20 as Ballsmider chased him down in a car while firing a gun out the window. The deputy did not turn on his sirens or speed to Bill’s rescue because the dispatcher listed it as a Priority Two.

Bill fully understood that his life was coming to a painful end after he was shot, knocked to the ground, and then approached and killed while looking at the barrel of a gun.

Surviving Bill are his wife Gaye, daughter Heidi and son Hans.

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