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Lake Stevens dad describes ambush by squatter at his home

Shane McDaniel and his son of Lake Stevens. (KIRO 7)

A Lake Stevens man walked right into a carefully-planned ambush set up by a squatter in his garage — and thankfully had his gun with him.

Shane McDaniel was shocked when his mother, who lives in a duplex next to a garage he owns, called him Friday evening to say that the man hired to work on his garage had not gone home yet. McDaniel, perplexed, responded that he never hired anyone to fix his garage.

“My mom is seeing this guy, 30 years old, creepy looking, with a beard, and she just figures because he’s working on my property all day, so brazen, she just thought that he belonged there,” McDaniel told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

McDaniel, his 21-year-old son, and his son’s friend immediately went to the property to investigate.

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When they arrived, they noticed an unknown vehicle, as well as an elaborate “labyrinth out of fence-board panels” between the duplex and garage, largely blocking the garage from view of anyone standing in the house.

But the scene got even stranger upon entering the garage. With one of the younger men on the phone with 911, the three walked into a mountain of the wheelchairs and mobility scooters that McDaniel repairs on the side and keeps stored in the garage.

“He had set those chairs up to where, if you came in, you could have gotten past it, but in a combat situation, once you engaged, it would be difficult to escape the building,” McDaniel said of the squatter.

The men seemed to be walking into a makeshift trap straight out of a movie.

“He’s got it set up to where, if somebody came in, if they got so many feet inside that building, he would have control of them, big time … the only thing missing was a hole in the floor with a net covered and some leaves,” McDaniel said ruefully.

There were knives, machetes, and axes — not belonging to McDaniel — placed strategically all around the garage, so that no matter where the squatter stood, he had quick access to a weapon.

“He had, I’m sure, been very paranoid, thinking that there was an altercation coming,” he said. “He knows that he is where he shouldn’t be … this guy was ready to do battle.”

McDaniel saw the squatter as soon as they walked in, and the ambush began immediately. The squatter tossed a knife to the side and began reaching for something that McDaniel feared was a gun. It turned out to be a pellet gun, which is still dangerous if used against another person. McDaniel yelled at the squatter to put up his hands.

“He won’t stop reaching for this gun, so I fired my pistol to the side, into the dirt, up against the building” McDaniel said.

Unfortunately, the warning shot did not scare away the squatter. On the contrary, he then went into attack mode, requiring McDaniel and his son to try to constrain him. The squatter, McDaniel said, has a long history of violently combating police officers, once with as many as four officers at a time.

“He’s 30 years old and a lot bigger than us … we couldn’t get total control of him until the very end,” McDaniel said.

Eventually, just before law enforcement arrived, the three men were able to overpower the squatter.

After the attacker was arrested, McDaniel and his family found a mess of passports, IDs, and cell phones in the garage, as though the squatter had stolen many purses. They also found drug paraphernalia, which could help explain why the squatter was paranoid enough to craft his own ambush.

In the days since the ambush, McDaniel has run into criticism online from people who said that he should have shot to kill, rather than fired to the side. He maintains that if he could redo the scenario, he would not change his shot; he did not want to kill anyone.

“People will say that that was dangerous, but it was a lot less dangerous than shooting him, I can assure you of that … You can be completely in fear for your life and still shoot somebody without shooting to kill, it just depends on the marksman,” he said.

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