Two days before, a mob had seized and lynched two accused murderers and a man accused of killing a Seattle policeman. All three victims had been in the sheriff's custody. Before the lynching, Wykoff had resisted the mob trying to take two of his prisoners. Wykoff held a gun on the lynch mob, which was some 200 strong, telling the men that they would take his prisoners over his dead body.
The mob then went away, but grabbed the prisoners the next day and lynched them, along with another accused man. Two days after this disastrous affair, Wykoff suffered a heart attack and died. He was the first King County peace officer to die in the line of duty.