An hours-long standoff in East County with an armed suspect involved a man was upset that his parents were going to sell the land he lived on, according to court documents.
Keaton Ronald Kesler, 30, is being held on two charges of second degree assault with a deadly weapon, felony harassment with a previous conviction and unlawful imprisonment. His bail is set at $500,000.
Kesler, who was arraigned in Judge Dave Edwards’ court Monday, said he lived on Sand Creek Road southwest of McCleary with his parents, wife and two children.
Court documents state that a neighbor called 9-1-1 saying Kesler had shot at and threatened to kill his parents. The caller said Kesler was wearing body armor and had multiple firearms.
In an interview with a deputy the night of the incident, Kesler’s parents said they were “preparing their property to be listed for sale by a real estate company,” court documents state. Kesler lives in a cabin on the property, and did not want them to sell. The mother stated that Kesler became aggravated and refused to move his truck, which was blocking his parents from leaving.
Kesler then “started dumping garbage on the property, took paint and dumped it all over the place and painted a tree pink.” That’s when he donned a flak jacket believed to have armor plating in it and got an assault rifle and a pistol and started shooting at random objects.
When his mother told him to stop, Kesler stated, “You better not call the police because I will shoot them, and then shoot you,” the records state.
At this point, the parents got in their truck and started to leave the property, fearing for their lives. Kesler, driving an off-road vehicle, then blocked their escape and started firing his rifle in their direction, a filing states.
The parents then drove back to the house, while Kesler returned to the surrounding woods. The parents went to a neighbor’s home, where they heard shooting coming from the woods.
Nobody was injured during the incident. When deputies arrived, they realized they had an armed suspect unaccounted for, so they called in help from the county Critical Response Unit. The CRU is a multi-agency team that responds to potentially violent situations, similar to what is commonly known as SWAT teams.
A Washington State Patrol plane equipped with thermal imaging sensors also was dispatched to search the area.
Several nearby homes were evacuated while officers tried to contain the area.
The CRU personnel eventually approached the house in an armored vehicle. They were able to communicate with Kesler, who was inside the house. He surrendered around 1:15 a.m. Oct. 31.
A search warrant was executed and several firearms were seized from inside the house, Grays Harbor County Undersheriff Brad Johansson said.
In 2008, Kesler was the subject of two temporary protection orders in Grays Harbor County after he was accused of making threats to kill his exgirlfriend and her new boyfriend. But Kesler was not charged with any crimes at the time.
The CRU consists of members of the Aberdeen, Cosmopolis, Hoquiam and Montesano police departments and the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office.