The incident that sparked a six-hour standoff in Brinnon was caught by one of the victims on a dashboard camera. The footage was then turned over to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. (Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office)

The incident that sparked a six-hour standoff in Brinnon was caught by one of the victims on a dashboard camera. The footage was then turned over to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. (Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office)

Brinnon death caused by self-inflicted gunshot wound

BRINNON — A Brinnon man found dead after a six-hour standoff with law enforcement Thursday died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office identified the man Friday as William Gaul, 57, after family members were notified.

An autopsy performed Friday found that the cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, said Arthur Frank, chief criminal deputy.

The wound was consistent with the weapon found with Gaul, a .22-caliber pistol, according to Jefferson County Undersheriff Joe Nole.

Gaul had threatened to harm himself during negotiations with law enforcement while he was barricaded inside an 18-foot travel trailer parked by the side of Robinson Road near U.S. Highway 101.

Officers heard a single gunshot from within Gaul’s trailer Thursday, but because yelling had been heard from the trailer after the gunshot and they could see no obvious signs of trauma, they did not know he had shot himself, according to Frank.

At 8:30 Thursday morning, the Sheriff’s Office received a call of a man threatening three people in a car with a gun. One of those inside the car turned over images and a video from a dashboard camera to the Sheriff’s Office.

When deputies arrived at the trailer at 9:13 a.m., they found Gaul inside and were able to communicate with him by shouting back and forth, Nole said.

During that conversation, Gaul threatened to harm himself, and State Patrol SWAT teams were called in to help negotiate.

From 12:35 p.m. to 1:15 p.m., State Patrol troopers continued negotiations with Gaul. At 1:15 p.m., a single gunshot was heard from inside the trailer. According to Nole, 15 minutes later, officials heard yelling from inside the trailer and surmised that Gaul was alive.

A second State Patrol team from Tacoma arrived just after 2 p.m. in a BearCat armored vehicle, which allowed negotiators to pull up next to the trailer, according to Nole.

After no response from Gaul, the team deployed flash-bang grenades outside of the trailer at 2:45 p.m. in an attempt to get a response. When that was unsuccessful, a small robotic camera was sent into the trailer, which captured the image of Gaul lying on the floor of the trailer, according to Nole.

Pepper spray balls were thrown into the trailer in a final attempt to get a response from Gaul. When that proved unsuccessful, officers entered the trailer and found Gaul dead, according to Nole. They saw no signs of trauma.

After 3 p.m., Gaul’s body was taken by the Jefferson County coroner to Kosec Funeral Home in Port Townsend.

Along with the Sheriff’s Office, State Patrol and State Patrol SWAT, the Brinnon Fire Department and Quilcene Fire Rescue each had ambulances at the scene and Airlift Northwest was moved from Seattle to Silverdale in case it was needed, according to Frank.

Robinson Road was closed during the standoff. It was reopened at about 4:30 p.m.

Residents in the area were not evacuated since it was deemed they were in no danger, Frank said.


Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at

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