Nanaimo man shot and killed by police after crashing hijacked semi in Washington State: U.S. officials

Nanaimo man shot and killed by police after crashing hijacked semi in Washington State: U.S. officials
Washington State Department of Transportation

A Nanaimo man was fatally shot by police in a standoff on the I5 south of Seattle, Wash. after crashing a semi truck he had hijacked hours earlier, according to U.S. officials.

Neil Alexander Costin, 32, was shot dead Friday, Nov. 18 following a four-hour standoff with police and a SWAT team that ended when he ran at law enforcement with a boxcutter, according to Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock.

The long series of events leading up to the standoff and fatal shooting started three days earlier, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, Warnock told CHEK News.

Costin was allegedly seen breaking into heavy equipment at a logging camp in the mountains east of Sumas, Wash. around 4 a.m.

Camp workers called border patrol, who detained a suspect matching his description and took him to the Sumas Border Patrol Station for further questioning.

Costin allegedly gave a fake name of “Derek Michael White” and claimed he was a U.S. citizen who had crossed into Canada to visit his girlfriend, but could not produce ID, according to Warnock.

Patrol created a file but had no further reason to keep him detained, and Costin was released, he said.

What happened between Tuesday and Friday is unknown, but at some point Costin made his way to Thurston County, southwest of Seattle, where the fatal shooting occurred Friday.

Police were called for a report of a person running in and out of the I5 Highway on foot, banging on cars and stopping traffic.

Costin then hijacked a tractor-trailer, assaulting the driver who got out, and began driving it south on the highway, the coroner said. The large truck smashed into several cars before rolling into a median just north of exit 109 near Lacey, Wash.

Police and firefighters responded shortly after, discovering the man would not exit the cab of the truck, which was now on its side, and the four-hour standoff followed during which negotiators and a SWAT team were called in.

An armoured vehicle used a spear to impale the windshield of the cab, pulling it out and ordering Costin to exit the vehicle.

Costin did not comply at first, and when he did finally exit the vehicle he ran at officers with a boxcutter “and that’s when they opened fire and killed him,” said Warnock.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators took fingerprints from the body and eventually discovered they matched with the man taken into Sumas Border Patrol days earlier, but there were no matches in the U.S. national database for “Derek Michael White,” Warnock said.

“So I thought, you know what? This guy’s from Canada,” he said.

After confirming a possible photo match, U.S. authorities confirmed with BC RCMP that the man killed was actually Costin, determined to be a Nanaimo resident living with his parents at the time of his death.

His official cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

The Thurston County Coroner’s Office says its investigation is complete, but because it was an officer-involved shooting a multi-agency investigation not involving Thurston County officials has been launched, and any possible charges would be forwarded to a prosecutor.

Washington State Patrol provided much less detail, but said the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office will head up the investigation into the police shooting

Warnock said Costin’s next-of-kin have been notified of his death.

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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