Port Angeles man pleads not guilty to charges after standoff

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man involved in a five-hour standoff with police Nov. 19 pleaded not guilty last week to malicious mischief-domestic violence in Clallam County District Court, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chris Cowgill said.

The standoff in the 1700 block of West 14th Street ended without injuries at about 7 p.m. after police said John Thomas Zachary Cox, 41, barricaded himself in a travel trailer, armed with a crowbar and knives.

The alleged victim — Cox’s girlfriend — said Friday she intends to go to District Court on Tuesday to have a judge lift a no-contact order against Cox that prohibits him from getting in touch with her.

She told Peninsula Daily News that Cox had been acting suicidal for three days before the incident.

“I was in no danger,” she said.

“He just needs help.”

Cowgill said Cox, 41, was released Monday on his own recognizance based on his lack of a prior criminal history.

“He did not appear to be in any type of distress when he was in court,” Cowgill said, declining to discuss the facts in the case.

The girlfriend reported him missing mid-day Monday after his court appearance. But early Wednesday evening, Deputy Chief Jason Viada said that Cox had contacted them so that he could retrieve his belongings from the residence.

The standoff began after police responded to a call from the girlfriend, who “stated that they began to argue and something ‘triggered’ which made him ‘explode,’ ” according to the police report.

The girlfriend told the PDN that there was no arguing or “triggered moment.”

Cox “was screaming, threatening to harm himself and was breaking items,” according to the police report.

The girlfriend said Cox was breaking things in a separate room and had knives and the ax inside the trailer to do himself harm, “and told me basically how he was going to kill himself.”

Cox told police he shattered a mirror and kicked a portable space heater in the residence, according to the report.

The girlfriend questioned why domestic violence was added to the charge.

“This wasn’t a domestic violence call. This was a suicidal ideation call,” she said.

“I was calling for someone who was suicidal, not violent.”

People often think of domestic violence as “an act itself,” Cowgill said.

“It’s just a designation based on the relationship of the people involved.”

“The tag technically could be added to any crime at all.”

As a gross misdemeanor, malicious mischief-domestic violence carries a maximum sentence of up to 365 days and a $5,000 fine.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] suladailynews.com.

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