James Sapp, the 48-year-old man accused of shooting a police officer during a traffic stop in Vancouver, Wash., on June 30, has died in what authorities are describing as a suicide in the local jail.
Sapp allegedly shot Vancouver officer Dustin Goudschall seven times after being pulled over for a traffic violation, then fled the scene, wrecked his vehicle, and then assaulted an elderly man and carjacked his vehicle before finally being caught by police and arrested. Goudschall survived his critical injuries and was able to help identify his assailant. He is currently recovering from the wounds.
On Sunday morning, deputies found Sapp in his cell attempting to commit suicide and intervened. He was rushed to an area hospital but was pronounced dead at 12:45 p.m.
Sapp had a long history of claiming membership in the Aryan Brotherhood, dating back to previous arrests for other crimes. He was also involved in a 2012 case in Clark County involving an assault on a 12-year-old Latino boy and a relative.
Sapp’s family told the Vancouver Columbian through a spokesperson that even though Sapp “had a checkered background … he loved his family and wife.”
Rev. Michael Baca, the pastor of the church Sapp’s family attends, told the Columbian that Sapp’s issues seemed to have been triggered by a head injury he suffered a few years ago. Earlier this week, Sapp reportedly expressed remorse for what he had done.
“‘I need to make things right with God.’ Those are his exact words,” Baca said. “He knew he was going to be in prison for the rest of his life. He was accepting that. Obviously, (Thursday) something changed.”
The pastor asked for compassion for the man and his family.
“He’s not a monster. He was a person dealing with a lot of issues,” Baca said. “There was something inside of him that would click on that had very powerful control over him.”