The man suspected of gunning down Cowlitz County, Wash., Sheriff’s Deputy Justin DeRosier Saturday night had, according to the Longview Daily News, a “lengthy criminal history.”
But what is raising eyebrows in Southwest Washington and neighboring northern Oregon is the fact that the now-deceased suspect, Brian Butts, was the half-brother of Daniel Armaugh Butts, the man who pleaded guilty recently to the murder of Rainier, Ore. Police Chief Ralph Painter eight years ago.
Daniel Butts was sent to prison for at least 49 years for the Painter slaying. According to the Portland Oregonian, the police chief was killed with his own gun.
There is another non-surprise in the case. Brian Butts was armed, yet with his criminal history, he could not legally possess a firearm. KGW News reported that Butts “was in prison from 2012 until 2017, according to the Washington Department of Corrections. He was convicted (of) multiple drug charges.”
Anti-gun lawmakers and gun prohibition lobbying groups in both states have been pushing all manner of gun control over the past couple of years, and there is no indication they plan to slow down. What the Cowlitz County tragedy underscores is the fact that those laws did not prevent the suspect from having a gun that he apparently used to kill a lawman; a firearm he reportedly asked an associate to “get rid of,” according to the Daily News.
Yet, 22 hours after Deputy DeRosier was fatally wounded, Brian Butts was killed in a confrontation with two more lawmen when the suspect “was seen tromping out of the woods wet and dirty with a firearm,” the newspaper said. Where did he get that firearm?
Arrested in connection with the investigation were two other brothers, identified as Matthew and Michael Veatch. KGW said they were “associated with the suspect.” Matthew Veatch was arrested for allegedly rendering criminal assistance to Butts, while his brother, Michael, was jailed on an outstanding warrant from the state Department of Corrections, the Daily News reported.
Last month, Kittitas County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson was fatally shot by a man who, according to the Associated Press and Spokane Spokesman-Review, by a man who was in this country illegally. That man, Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro, had entered the country legally about five years ago but overstayed his work visa. As he was reportedly in the country illegally, he could not possibly have legally purchased a firearm, yet he evidently had one the night of March 19, when he crossed paths with Thompson and Kittitas Police Officer Benito Chavez. The 22-year-old officer was seriously wounded in an exchange of gunfire that ended what began as an investigation of a road rage complaint.
By some estimates, there may be as many as 1.5 to 2 million lawful gun owners in Washington. More than 616,000 of them are licensed to carry concealed handguns, according to data from the Department of Licensing. Gun rights activists have been quick to note in various forums and chat groups that none of those law-abiding citizens harmed anybody, yet they are the ones being penalized by the gun control laws that have been passed in recent years, ostensibly to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.
What the two cases—one in Kittitas County and the other in Cowlitz County—indicate is that there is apparently a wide credibility gap between the promises of gun control and its reality.