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Suspected VA shooter's bail set at $1 million

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Clark County Judge Robert Lewis set the bail for a woman suspected of shooting her former supervisor on the U.S. Veterans Affairs campus in Vancouver at $1 million.

Deborah A. Lennon, a former Veterans Affairs employee, appeared this morning in Clark County Superior Court on several charges, including first-degree attempted murder, stalking, cyberstalking and first-degree assault.

Lewis appointed Steven Rucker to represent Lennon and set her arraignment for 9 a.m. Feb. 20.

The victim, Allen Bricker, 45, sought a protection order against Lennon in January 2013, alleging that she was stalking him with daily emails, according to court documents obtained by The Columbian.

Lennon, 46, of Vancouver walked into Bricker’s fourth-floor office about 4 p.m. Tuesday, pulled out a handgun and shot Bricker twice in the chest, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

According to court records, this isn't the first time Lennon tried to contact Bricker at the office.

A couple weeks ago, Lennon showed up at Bricker's office. She was escorted off the property, and employees installed locks on the back door of the office to prevent Lennon from sneaking in, court records show.

According to documents, when Lennon returned to the office on Tuesday, Bricker yelled, "She's got a gun!"

Neil Burkhardt, a Veterans Affairs employee and former Marine, heard gunshots, ran into the office and saw Bricker running down the hall. Lennon was chasing him. Burkhardt tackled Lennon, causing her head to break through an office window, according to court documents.

Burkhardt, 31 of Portland struck Lennon in the face until other employees were able to take away her gun. Employees secured Lennon's wrists until police arrived, the documents show.

According to court records, Lennon moved to her aunt's Portland home two weeks ago after living in Arizona for 15 months. After Lennon moved to Arizona, Bricker gave up on seeking the protection order.

In Thursday's court hearing, Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino said that after Lennon moved back to the northwest, she purchased a firearm.

"But for a bystander's actions, who knows how many others could have been hit," Gasperino said.

Bricker, chief financial officer for the VA Northwest Health Network since 2008, has worked for Veterans Affairs for 21 years.

Lennon was a financial auditor before she resigned from the agency of her own accord about two years ago to relocate out of state, according to Veterans Affairs.

In an email to Bricker contained in court documents, Lennon wrote that she left because Bricker was married.

Megan Crowley, spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs, said that Bricker and Lennon did not have any sort of sexual relationship.

Lennon wrote to Bricker sometimes several times per day, according to court records filed in Clark County District Court. Her emails professed love for Bricker, urged him to leave his wife and included threats to kill him.

Court Commissioner Jeffrey Witteman issued two temporary protection orders against Lennon in January 2013 but denied a request for a permanent protection order on March 20, 2013, because neither Bricker or Lennon showed up at the hearing.

The shooting occurred at the Center for Community Health building on the Veterans Affairs campus, 1601 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. The building was locked down for the rest of the day. The fourth floor of the building houses the VA Northwest Health Network.

Bricker sustained serious injuries and remains hospitalized at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. His condition was not available Wednesday.

Lennon sustained some injuries to her face and chest area and was treated at a local hospital while under guard by law enforcement. She was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and booked into the Clark County Jail.

Burkhardt suffered an injury to his right hand while disarming Lennon, which required him to stay Tuesday night at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, according to the sheriff’s office. No one was else was injured in the incident.

Burkhardt works at Veterans Affairs as the executive assistant to the department director. He was listed in good condition Wednesday.

In his request for a protection order Jan. 11, 2013, Bricker said the unwanted contact with Lennon began in late November 2012. Bricker reported the alleged stalking to Vancouver police in early January 2013, according to court documents.

In a Jan. 10, 2013, email to VA officials, Bricker expressed concerns about Lennon’s emails and asked for advice on what to do. He also asked in the email whether he should warn Lennon’s prospective employer, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Inspector General, “to let them know they are hiring a mentally unstable person,” according to court records.

Tuesday’s incident was the second workplace shooting in two days in Vancouver.

Two men died Monday in a shooting at Benjamin Moore Paints, a paint distribution warehouse at 1800 W. Fourth Plain Blvd. in Vancouver.

Police say that Robert R. Brown, 64, a truck driver for the paint company, shot and killed logistics manager Ryan Momeny, 45, at about 11:30 a.m. before killing himself.

An autopsy report released Wednesday stated that Momeny died of homicide and Brown of suicide.

Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Fred Neiman said that the investigation into Tuesday’s workplace shooting doesn’t show any copycat qualities.
 

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