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A deputy’s disintegration; a family’s agony

Post by Kim Bradford on May 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
May 25, 2010 9:50 am

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Allen Myron is the portrait of a man in free fall. That his descent ended violently this month when he killed his in-laws and himself is ultimately no one’s fault but his own.

Accounts from friends, family and colleagues paint starkly different pictures of the Pierce County sheriff’s deputy.

He was personable and upstanding, the kind of citizen who did missionary work in Nicaragua and entered law enforcement in midlife to make a difference. The kind of neighbor to bring you home-baked bread on Christmas and watch out for your kids as well as his own. The kind of friend who made a point to ask after an ill spouse.

Myron also apparently was a man who belittled his wife’s weight-loss attempts, spent his final hours obsessing over what he saw as her snubbing him at their child’s hospital bedside, and tried to hide his father-in-law’s body after shooting him in cold blood.

Perhaps Myron hid his demons well, or perhaps they only emerged of late as his life spiraled out of control.

An on-the-job back injury kept him off active duty and left him in constant pain, according to a friend. His marriage and finances were reportedly on the rocks.

Many families unravel. But most unravelings don’t end in murder, and very few murders are carried out by cops.

Yet something snapped May 14. Police say Myron had become convinced that his in-laws – the man who helped Myron with home improvement projects and the woman who always came bearing Myron’s favorite snack – had turned against him. For some reason known only to him, this warranted their deaths.

Now a family and a community are left to ask the whys and the what-ifs. Tacoma Police, who are doing the investigation, released a detailed statement last week that suggests the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department wasn’t negligent in supervising him.

Myron’s wife, Sara, contacted her husband’s supervisor the day before the shootings to express concern about his agitated behavior that day.

But she also reported that her husband had never hurt or threatened her. That left the department little to go on.
What the sheriff’s department apparently didn’t know was that Myron had tried to commit suicide in December and threatened it on other occasions.

Sheriff Paul Pastor said Friday that no one in his department should fear asking for help. Several employees have received counseling for mental health issues and remain respected members of the force, he said.

That Myron didn’t seek help , like his violent end, appears to be no one’s failing but his own. His family could have no more forced Myron to reckon with his demons than the sheriff’s department could have. His survivors will need all the care and support the community can give.

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