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Englishman Shot by Police Chief After Month Alone in Wilderness

October 21, 1989

OROVILLE, Wash. (AP) _ An Englishman who returned from a month alone in the wilderness acting ″stark, raving crazy″ was shot and killed on a downtown street after pointing a gun at the police chief, authorities said Friday.

David Brian Peatroy, 34, died Thursday as seven or eight people looked on after pointing a loaded, 9mm pistol at Police Chief Al Rise and threatened to kill him, Rise and witnesses said.

″He pointed (the gun) right in my face. ... I had no other choice,″ Rise said. ″It was over in five seconds. He was definitely crazy - stark, raving crazy. He had a wild look in his eye when he turned around and looked at me.″

Witnesses said Peatroy, who described himself as a computer programming expert who lived off royalties, began acting erratically Tuesday, a week after returning from a month alone in the Pasayten Wilderness in the North Cascades.

Rise was responding to a report of a man brandishing a pistol, said Okanogan County Sheriff Jim Weed, whose department is investigating the shooting in this town of 1,500 people about 130 miles northwest of Spokane.

″Al had no choice. I heard the guy holler something at Al, heard a shot and I saw Al, outside his car, shoot the guy,″ said witness Margaret Penson.

Peatroy, a resident alien originally from Worthing, England, had come to the Oroville area from his home in San Diego just a few days before leaving for the wilderness, Weed said.

Pat Miller, co-owner of an outfitting company in nearby Winthrop, said she and her husband, Claude, had helped Peatroy pack supplies Sept. 10 to an old tungsten mine in the North Cascades.

″He just wanted to get into the wilderness and stay, get away from the hustle and bustle of city life,″ Mrs. Miller said. ″I thought he was a nice boy.″

But Peatroy returned Oct. 10 a changed man, she said.

″He was like hyper once in a while,″ Mrs. Miller said. ″His laugh was a little hysterical, but he’d been in the hills for 30 days and was talking like a magpie, as anybody would.″

Witnesses told police that Peatroy had been in an Oroville tavern the night before he was killed trying to trade his belt buckle for a gun ″because he wanted to shoot somebody,″ said sheriff’s Sgt. Brad Wilson.

Mrs. Miller said Peatroy turned up at a bank Tuesday to ask about bank security, and when the banker refused to tell him, he threatened to shoot.

Peatory was refused a gun at a Winthrop pawn shop and had been turned down for a concealed weapon permit at the sheriff’s office last week because he was an alien, Wilson said.

Alarmed by his actions Tuesday, Mrs. Miller said she called a girlfriend of Peatroy’s in San Diego that night to ask if he were dangerous.

″But she said it was totally uncharacteristic of him,″ Mrs. Miller said.

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