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Shot fired on Puget Island; SWAT team mobilized

Law enforcement vehicles can be seen along East Birnie Slough Road on Puget Island, where a man was taken into custody Wednesday March 21 after deputies reported being fired on.

A Puget Island man accused of attempting to murder three lawmen is still waiting in the Wahkiakum County Jail two months after a judge ordered him to be treated at Western State Hospital so he can stand trial.

Lee Wages, 54, is taking his medicine now, his father, Don Wages Sr. said, but his son still needs help.

“It just seems like an awful long time,” Wages Sr. said. “He needs help bad. There’s nobody here even looking at him. The mental health here (at the county level), they’re just not doing anything.”

The state Department of Social and Health Services says the average wait time for competency restoration admission at Western State is 45.8 days. Wages has been waiting 55 days.

Western State is one of the largest psychiatric facilities in the United States, but the state has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for delays in timely treatment of mentally impaired defendants awaiting trial. Most recently, on May 22, federal inspectors issued an “immediate jeopardy” citation for fire safety equipment that patients could use to commit suicide. State officials have accepted a hospital plan to fix the problem, according to The News Tribune.

Wages is accused of three counts of attempted murder after allegedly firing six shots at two county sheriff’s deputies and a state trooper at his home on March 21. No one was injured, and Wages eventually surrendered.

Police were initially called to his home for a welfare check. Wages, who according to this family suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, was deemed incompetent to stand trial in April. A judge ordered him to receive three months of treatment at Western State to be made ready to stand trial.

County health workers say they cannot comment on Wages’ care because of health privacy laws.

Wages’ father said his son’s mental health began to deteriorate after the 2016 death of his wife, Anna, when he stopped taking his medicine regularly. The family had been “hammering” at the county to intervene in the month before the standoff, but Wages Sr. said they felt “brushed off.”

“We wanted him to get some kind of medication,” Wages Sr. said Monday. “However it was done. We weren’t against confining him and them handling the medication. I just wanted him to get help.”

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