A man on a mountain bike apparently threatened hikers and dogs with a shooting spree and even killed one dog before engaging in a gun battle with police that left him dead.
Mark Goforth was on a motorcycle ride up 8th Street Saturday morning when he ran into police blockades on the road. So he started hiking into Hulls Gulch instead.
The Boise man didn’t run into the reason for the police presence — a man who shot one family’s dog out on a trail, then fired at investigating officers.
But, heading up the Kestrel Trail, he ran into a group of people who told him of seeing the incident firsthand.
Even on a cool, cloudy day, the Foothills were packed with bikers, hikers and people out walking their dogs. So the first public signs that something was wrong came through Facebook and other social media, with trail users warning others of a suspicious man and, later, the shootings that shocked recreationists.
The name of the shooter, his motive and other details remained unconfirmed Saturday. But in confrontations before the two shootings, the man seemed “particularly upset” with dog owners out on the trails, Boise Police Chief Bill Bones said.
Officers were first called late that morning about the man threatening dogs and people in the area. After the man shot and killed the dog, police found him and he shot at the officers as well, Bones said. Those officers returned fire. Once the shooting stopped, officers found the man’s dead body.
Officer involved shooting update: Suspect found dead at the scene. Scene is secure. Please avoid the area. Investigation underway.
— Boise PD (@BoisePD) March 18, 2017
On Facebook, some witnesses identified the suspect as a mountain biker, though police did not confirm that detail.
“Nothing like a (Saturday) morning trail run with my dog watching the sunrise and listening to the birds and water then having a mountain biker pull a gun on your dog and you,” wrote one woman in a group dedicated to local trail runners. She said she was on the Mountain Cove Trail in the Military Reserve area that links up to the Hulls Gulch trail system.
Not everyone in the group Goforth encountered knew each other, he said. Though he took and posted their photos, he didn’t get their names, and the Statesman could not independently verify their accounts Saturday.
Goforth said they told him they walked by the suspect, who at some point stated he was going to start shooting people and dogs. The group then sought cover, with one woman wading knee-deep into a creek, Goforth said.
The witnesses told Goforth they heard seven shots from the gunman, and dozens in return from police. The shooting involved Boise police officers and is being investigated by a task force led by the Meridian Police Department. Neither agency released details Saturday of how many officers fired their guns.
It turns out that six officers fired their guns at the shooter in a fight that some witnesses say lasted for 30 seconds, with dozens of rounds fired.
The area where the shooting took place is a very popular outdoor recreation area with hikers and runners, and there were an estimated 30-40 people in the area when the incident occurred.
It’s a shame about the dog being killed, but very fortunate that police were able to locate and neutralize the gunman before the still unnamed man started targeting people.