Flags at South Bay Fire District 8 were at half-staff Monday after the death Saturday of assistant chief Gregory Paul Thompson Jr., 33.
Thompson’s roommate found him dead about 6:20 p.m. Saturday inside a fire district-owned Ford Explorer parked outside Thompson’s residence in the 6600 block of 73rd Avenue Northeast.
Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock said. Warnock ruled the death a suicide.
Thompson’s uncle, Thomas Thompson, said that Gregory had wanted to be a firefighter from a very young age, while growing up across from the South Bay fire station on Johnson Point Road.
Gregory Thompson’s desire to join the fire department was strengthened during his youth, after witnessing the fire department’s response after his own home caught fire, his uncle said. Thompson joined the fire department right out of high school, Thomas Thompson added.
Gregory Thompson was one of the youngest assistant fire chiefs in the area, his uncle said.
“That was his lifelong goal at a pretty young age, and then he accomplished that,” he said.
Olympia Fire Department Assistant Chief Greg Wright said the local fire departments are planning a memorial for Thompson later in the week.
In a news release, Wright wrote: “Neighboring fire departments are covering calls and supporting members of the South Bay Fire Department as they grieve this loss.”
Wright said the other members of the South Bay Fire District will fill in to perform Thompson’s duties until his position is filled. A woman who answered the phone at the South Bay Fire District said Thompson was one of three assistant chiefs. The assistant chief position is appointed from within the fire district by the fire chief.
Thompson’s surviving relatives include his father, Gregory Sr., and two younger brothers, his uncle said.
For information on suicide prevention, go to www.suicide preventionlifeline.org. Also, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is a free and confidential 24-hour telephone hot line available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.