A college student dressed in a vintage German military uniform who was fatally shot by police on New Year's Day was a harmless, eccentric history buff, his family and friends said.
Miles Murphy, a University of Washington senior, was shot several times at his apartment early Thursday after police said he pointed a rifle affixed with a bayonet at officers and refused orders to drop the weapon.
Seattle police had converged on Murphy's apartment after receiving complaints that several men were firing rifle and shotgun rounds into the air. Police learned from witnesses that one of the men lived in a basement apartment of a multifamily boardinghouse. Officers staged themselves at the top of a narrow staircase leading to the basement entrance.
As they did so, police said, Miles Murphy emerged from the basement wearing a World War II-era German military uniform and carrying a World War II Kar 98 German infantry rifle with affixed bayonet in both hands. The officers identified themselves as Seattle police and ordered Murphy to drop the weapon. Murphy pointed the weapon at the officers, according to a witness, then lowered it, then pointed it at them again "while taking a step forward." The officers said they had direct eye contact with Murphy during this exchange and that Murphy did not utter a word, the police chief said. When he refused several orders to drop the weapon, two officers fired seven shots. Paramedics transported Murphy to Harborview Medical Center, where he died.
When they searched his home, police found alcohol, live ammunition and a large collection of German, Russian and Nazi memorabilia including photographs and uniforms.
Murphy, 22, was a senior Germanics major aspiring to be a German literature professor.
Friends and co-workers of Miles Murphy remember him as a free-GERMAN-spirit who wasn't afraid to be himself. He was a history buff with an affinity for vintage clothing - especially World War II military gear. Murphy liked to dress up in period costumes. Co-workers described a time when he came to work wearing lederhosen only to leave wearing a full-on Civil War uniform.
Police said Murphy was wearing a German Army uniform when they confronted him just after 2 a.m. on New Year's Day after a neighbor reported seeing him firing shots in the alley. When officers arrived, they say Murphy met them holding the vintage infantry rifle and refused to drop it.
The Seattle police say two officers had no choice when they opened fire on a University of Washington student who pointed a rifle and bayonet at them in the Thursday morning darkness. Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske defended that position — even while disclosing that a witness told the officers that the student, dressed in a German military uniform, had no live ammo in his rifle.
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