Mental patient kills King County Sheriff's Deputy Donald A. Armeni on September 15, 1954.

  • By Dave Wilma
  • Posted 5/01/2002
  • Essay 3760

On September 15, 1954, King County Sheriff's Deputy Donald A. Armeni is shot and killed by a mentally disturbed Army veteran in a cabin on Lake Joy. Armeni is shot as deputies are trying to arrest Deeroy Johnson, who fears returning to a mental institution.

Deputy Armeni and Deputies Art Asplund and Kenneth Palmer went to Johnson's cabin on Lake Joy, six miles southeast of Duvall, with a warrant for Johnson's arrest. Neighbors had complained to authorities that Johnson threatened to shoot them. Johnson's father swore out an insanity complaint to have him returned to the American Lake Veterans' Hospital. Johnson had been wounded in combat in the Southwest Pacific late in World War II and had been in and out of mental institutions since 1948.

Johnson's father told the deputies that he had taken his son's gun. The deputies entered Johnson's home and he came out of a bedroom in his underwear, firing. Armeni was struck six times. Deputy Palmer was slightly wounded and shot Johnson twice.

Deputy Armeni was active in community activities including fishing derbies. The Don Armeni Boat Ramp at 1222 Harbor Avenue SW in Seattle is named after him.



"Deputy Killed, Man Shot Near Duvall," The Seattle Daily Times, September 15, 1954, p. 1, 2; "Condition of Vet, Who Slew Deputy, Grave," Ibid., September 16, 1954, p. 2; Bill Williams, "Vet Feared Return To Hospital," Ibid., p. 2. Special thanks to Sgt. Tom Smith, King County Sheriff's Office, for calling this incident to our attention and for sharing research material.

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