Updated with additional details from Monday news briefing.
Edmonds police officer Tyler Steffins died Saturday, March 26 after being attacked by a knife-wielding suspect in Las Vegas, the Edmonds Police Department announced Monday morning.
The 33-year-old Steffins was off-duty in Las Vegas when he was attacked, Edmonds police spokesperson Sgt. Josh McClure said. He was transported to an area hospital but did not survive his injuries. The Las Vegas Metro Police Department has a 58-year-old man in custody and has launched a homicide investigation.
Steffins started with the Edmonds Police Department in August 2018. He was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps (corporal, 2007-2011) with recognition for his service during Operation Enduring Freedom. He graduated from the police academy in March 2019 and was number one overall in his class. After completion of field training, he worked as a patrol officer for both day and night shifts.
The officer, who was vacationing in Las Vegas at the time of his death, is survived by his wife, stepmother, father, brothers, sister and two elementary-age children, all in the Snohomish County area. Edmonds police will work closely with the family to provide assistance and support, McClure added.
During a media briefing Monday afternoon, McClure said that Edmonds police learned about the officer’s death late Sunday night. Edmonds police staff had already been impacted by the line-of-duty death of Everett police officer Dan Rocha on Friday, with detectives and peer support personnel helping the Everett department cope with the loss — all while the region was dealing with the loss of Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Dominique “Dom” Calata, McClure said.
“When Sunday night got here and we had to turn our attention inward, our staff was already pretty exhausted. And they are still, right now,” McClure said. The department activated a phone tree in an effort to contact all of the department’s approximately 70 officers and support staff, “and make sure they heard from some voice within the building what had occurred.”
Once the information about Steffins became known Sunday night, Edmonds’ neighboring police agencies — including Mukilteo, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace — “started covering our calls for us as our employees were dealing with the news of their co-worker being murdered,” McClure said. In addition, peer support programs from other agencies have stepped in to help, and a professional counselor is on-site, he added.
McClure said he was part of the hiring team that brought Steffins to the Edmonds Police Department, noting that he passed field training “without a hiccup.” Steffins, McClure said, “is incredibly missed in our building already, in just the last 12 hours or so, and I can only imagine what his family is going through as well.”
McClure described Steffins as “a very chill individual, very calm, (who) spoke with an even, steady tone. (He) didn’t say much but when he did it was usually funny. He was also a consummate professional.”
The Edmonds Police Department, McClure said, “will continue to work internally to support our staff as best we can but we also know that we’ll also have to rely on some outside entities and stakeholders to help get us through this, all while we’re trying to help the Everett Police Department get through their own tragedy.”
“Yeah, we’re tired,” McClure said. However, he added that “what makes this place, this staff of police officers and support staff, and law enforcement — the profession as a whole — so amazing is that people still show up to work everyday no matter whether they are exhausted.
“It’s just what we do when you become part of this profession and realize it’s what you were meant to do,” McClure said.
Newly hired Edmonds Assistant Police Chief Rodney Sniffin, who arrived in Edmonds two weeks ago from the Everett Police Department, described the situation as “an incredibly difficult time. Coming from the police family in Everett just two weeks ago and having to deal with that tragedy and come here to my new family in Edmonds and have another tragedy happen, it’s very trying.”
McClure said that Steffins’ death, to his knowledge, marks “the first time we’ve lost an employee in a capacity like this,” with no officer prior to this time lost in the line of duty or off duty. Longtime Edmonds Police Chief David Stern died after suffering a medical issue in 2007.
“This is a tragic loss for our agency when our staff and the entire region is already in a state of mourning for other fallen officers,” said Edmonds Police Chief Michelle Bennett. “While we grieve with heavy hearts, our peer support program members are actively engaging with our staff. Tyler was a valued member of our police family whose infectious smile and contagious laugh endeared him to his peers. We will miss him terribly but cherish the times we had with him. We remain committed to providing quality service to our community even during the most trying of times.”
Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney and Edmonds resident Adam Cornell said that his office “shares in the heavy sorrow felt by Officer Steffins’ family and loved ones, his law enforcement colleagues, and the entire Edmonds community. His tragic and untimely death comes as a shock to us all. We will be forever grateful for his immense and selfless commitment to keeping our community safe and for all his fine work.”
A news release from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) said that patrol officers there were advised of a stabbing that had occurred on a pedestrian bridge near the 3900 block of South Las Vegas Boulevard around 9:39 p.m. March 26. As the officers arrived, they noticed a male, later identified as 58-year-old Freddy Allen, holding a knife. Allen attempted to run from officers but was apprehended. Medical personnel located and transported the victim — later identified as Tyler Steffins — to University Medical Center Trauma, where he was pronounced dead.
An LVMPD homicide investigation indicates the victim and Allen had been involved in a verbal altercation over a dog the night before. The day of the incident, Allen and the victim got into another verbal altercation. As words were being exchanged, Allen stabbed the victim one time and attempted to flee the area before being apprehended by patrol officers, the LVMPD release said.
Allen was transported to the Clark County Detention Center, where he was booked for open murder with a deadly weapon.