Suspect in Mason County police chase had been wanted in South Kitsap armed robbery

ALLYN - Mason County Sheriff's deputy was injured and the usually quiet town of Allyn was shaken when a 28-year-old armed robbery suspect from Bainbridge Island crashed through a police roadblock and led authorities on a manhunt on Friday.

The incident ended with Kristofer Thurston Nickerson of Bainbridge Island in the Mason County jail. A 39-year-old Mason County deputy was treated and released at a Shelton hospital after being hit in the leg by gunfire during the incident. It's not clear if he was shot by Nickerson or if he was hit by a ricochet from another officer's gun.

Authorities in Kitsap County had been seeking Nickerson in connection with an armed robbery in South Kitsap in August. A $250,000 warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Mason County deputies found him driving north on Highway 3 just south of Allyn, according to Chief Deputy Dean Byrd of the Mason County Sheriff's Office.

Nickerson, driving a white Mitsubishi, fled toward Allyn when a deputy tried to pull him over. Law enforcement set up a roadblock about a mile south of Allyn, and when Nickerson's car reached it he slowed down and stopped.

Then he sped up and ran through the roadblock, which Byrd said constituted turning his car into a "deadly weapon."

Gunshots were fired, and a deputy ended up with a bullet wound to his leg, but it's not clear who fired, Byrd said.

Nickerson sped off with another deputy in pursuit, according to the Mason County Sheriff's Office account of the incident. The chase led down North Bay Road, where neighbors looked on in alarm.

Ron Drake was on his way home from the post office when deputies surrounded his car and told him to get indoors quickly "and lock the door."

Nickerson's car crashed into a power utility box and the deputy wedged his patrol car behind him, Byrd said. The suspect fled on foot, chased by deputies with tracking dogs.

Drake and his wife Joni watched as law enforcement helicopters flew overheard and teams combed the woods on the shore of North Bay, including under the porch of their cabin. The couple was "stressed, absolutely stressed. It was interesting," Joni Drake said.

Dogs tracked Nickerson and found him hiding in a creek bed, Byrd said.

The 39-year-old deputy who was wounded is a four-year veteran of the Mason County Sheriff's Office. He was treated and released at Mason County General Hospital, said Byrd, who declined to identify him. "He told me he has two holes in his leg, and his leg is very sore, but we expect him to recover fully," Byrd said.

Law enforcement is looking for a gun that may have been on the suspect. Byrd did not dismiss the possibility that the deputy was accidentally shot by another officer, or hit by a ricochet. "I would not want to speculate on the source of the gunshot," Byrd said.

A special ballistics unit made up of law enforcement personnel from a five-county area is analyzing the scene. The unit specifically investigates the shooting of law enforcement officers.

Deputies also detained a woman who was in the car, but she is cooperating with officers, said Byrd.

"She may be more of a victim in this than a criminal," he said.

The warrant for the suspect's arrest stemmed from a robbery Aug. 13 in which three men armed with guns and a woman carrying a knife burst into a home on the 1700 block of Kidd Avenue in South Kitsap.

Two people were arrested shortly after the robbery; Nickerson was among three others wanted in connection with it.

Byrd said Nickerson was taken to Mason County Jail and faces possible charges of vehicular assault and felony fleeing from a police officer.

The North Mason School District campus, which includes the high school and Hawkins Middle School, was on lockdown for about an hour during the search. The lockdown was lifted at about 1:20 p.m., according to an e-mail from the school district.

According to Byrd, more than 30 law enforcement officers, including Mason County deputies, state troopers, Fish and Wildlife officers, and Pierce County deputies were involved in the suspect's arrest. The Skokomish Tribal Police also responded.