The Grays Harbor Prosecutor’s Office announced Tuesday it will not seek charges against the shooter, Gary Bowers, 38, of Port Orchard, in the death of Westin Wolff during the tragic Aug. 29 camping trip.
Prosecutor Stew Menefee said all the evidence indicates Bowers fired the fatal shot only after Wolff ignored several warning shots and attacked him with a machete.
“We found that the evidence would support it was a justifiable homicide committed in self-defense,” Menefee said this morning.
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Grays Harbor Undersheriff Rick Scott said Wolff and two friends set camp near Wynooche Lake early in the afternoon, finding a remote spot away from any established camping grounds.
Wolff started to drink a “significant amount” of alcohol, Scott said. Another 25-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy with Wolff told investigators he became “quite intoxicated” before deciding to go for a hike at about midnight.
Scott said Wolff and the 16-year-old started walking along a road when Wolff stumbled into Bowers’ nearby campsite, knocking over camping gear and throwing things in frustration.
Bowers’ family, including his wife and two young children, awoke and he fired a shot in the air to scare off what he believed was an animal, Scott said. When he found Wolff and the teenager in his camp, an argument broke out with Wolff becoming aggressive and Bowers firing two more warning shots.
“The victim, who was intoxicated, was refusing to leave,” Scott said.
Shortly before 1 a.m., Wolff returned to his campsite and for unknown reasons pulled off all his clothes except his shorts and a T-shirt.
“He picks up a black machete,” Scott said, “and took off into the dark.” Read more