Buckley police chief dodges machete attack, subdues senior suspect

The attacker, Warren H. Alexander, has been charged with assault in the first degree and felony harassment.

Charging papers for Warren H. Alexander, 78. Documents courtesy Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

Charging papers for Warren H. Alexander, 78. Documents courtesy Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

It all started rather innocently, with Buckley Police Chief Jim Arsanto stopping for a morning coffee.

Things went downhill in a hurry, however. Moments later, the veteran chief was dodging an attack by a machete-wielding senior citizen. And, quickly, Arsanto had subdued the suspect who had also threatened a passerby.

In the end, the chief’s attacker – who is reportedly transient and suspected to be mentally ill – was arrested and charged with two crimes, made an initial court appearance and was set free.

Warren H. Alexander, 78, pleaded not guilty during an initial appearance Thursday, Aug. 22, in Pierce County Superior Court. He was released on his own recognizance. He is charged with assault in the first degree (with a deadly-weapon enhancement) and felony harassment.

According to charging papers, here’s how the situation unfolded.

It was shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, when Arsanto stopped at the Sunshine Mart on state Route 410 for coffee. He noticed a man nearby, pulling flowers from a raised bed, talking to himself and then yelling at a shopper who happened to leave the business.

According to the court document, the chief recognized the man from previous contacts.

The suspect allegedly reached behind his back and produced a folding, machete-type of weapon. According to court papers, the suspect “took a fighting stance while raising the weapon and stated several times to the man that he was going to kill him and everyone else.”

That’s when Arsanto entered into the already-dangerous situation. The chief yelled at the suspect, ordering him to drop his weapon, causing the suspect to turn his wrath on the chief. He resumed an aggressive stance and began swinging the machete dangerously close to Arsanto. At the same time, he was screaming that he would kill all police.

When the suspect prepared to swing his weapon a third time, Arsanto managed to take the weapon from the man and take him to the ground.

Medical personnel responded and determined the man had not been injured. At that point he was taken into custody.

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