PORT ANGELES — A potential explosion was averted Tuesday when a bullet fired during a rural neighborhood dispute west of Port Angeles glanced off a propane tank, according to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
One bullet came close to hitting a neighbor, Sgt. John Keegan, who also serves on the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team, said Wednesday.
“We are very lucky we did not have a homicide yesterday,” Keegan said.
Authorities believe the bullet that grazed the tank was one of a half-dozen fired by Derek D. Darling, 40, of 54 Mountain Home Road.
Darling allegedly directed the gunfire at a nearby home under construction in the 100 block of Mountain Home Road that Darling insisted he owned, according to a probable cause statement filed Wednesday.
County records show a different owner.
Judge Erik Rohrer set $250,000 bail Wednesday for Darling in Darling’s first Superior Court appearance via video form the Clallam County jail following his arrest for investigation of two counts of first-degree assault and a charge of resisting arrest.
Charges are expected to be filed Friday.
Darling told investigators that before he shot at the house, he told the neighbor to leave.
Peninsula Communications law enforcement dispatchers heard gunshots in the background when the resident of the home called 9-1-1 at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The alleged victim, believed to be in his 70s, according to Sheriff’s Sgt. John Keegan, said a neighbor was shooting at the man’s partially built residence.
Fragments of glass from the home were shattered by one of the 6 mm bullets that Darling fired from his scoped, bolt-action, high-powered rifle, according to authorities.
Glass fragments hit the man in the face, according to the probable cause statement, which said he was treated and discharged from Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles.
“I have been told one bullet came inches from striking the victim,” Keegan said.
Another bullet glanced off what appeared to be a 500-gallon propane tank, 15 feet from an RV where the man was living and 40 feet from the home he was building, Keegan said.
The tank had “a high likelihood” of containing propane, Keegan said.
Darling allegedly was firing from a couple of hundred feet away.
“It’s one of those things you would want to avoid shooting,” Keegan said.
Darling told authorities he fired into the house and the window, saying “he was angry enough that he wanted to kill that guy,” according to the probable cause statement.
Law enforcement personnel from five agencies responded to the 9-1-1 call, including the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Port Angeles Police Department and Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement team.
When Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Cortani arrived, Darling pointed the rifle at him from the end of Darling’s driveway, according to the probable cause statement.
Cortani took cover from behind his vehicle before Darling walked back to his garage, left his rifle there, and walked back down the driveway.
Authorities later found a Bushnell-scoped Remington Model 788 hunting rifle, several 6 mm bullets, and shell casings on the back tailgate of a Toyota 4Runner in the garage and more bullets inside his residence.
Darling, who refused to be put into restraints and struggled against officers, was subdued by a stun gun, Keegan said.
Attorney Alex Stalker of Clallam Public Defender, representing Darling on Wednesday, did not contest the $250,000 bail requested by Michele Devlin, chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney.
“There are some potential 1077 concerns here,” Stalker told Rohrer, referring to Revised Code of Washington court rules for the criminally insane.
Darling told Judge Erik Rohrer that “for the record,” his name is not Derek Darling but is Daniel Camero.
“I own a lot of real estate under Daniel Camero,” Darling said.
There are no property owners under the name Daniel Camero or Derek Darling in Clallam or Jefferson counties, according to assessor’s office records in those counties.
Rohrer said he would continue to address Darling by his “birth name.”