When Andrea Thomas Churna moved into her luxury apartment in Redmond, Washington, last summer, she was looking forward to a fresh start. She had recently moved back to Washington state from California, to raise her 7-year-old son with her ex-husband.
One month later, on a balmy fall night, Churna dialed 911. “I think someone’s trying to kill me at my apartment,” Churna told emergency dispatchers at 9:23 p.m. on September 20.
That call would result in her death 30 minutes later. To understand what transpired that night, and why the investigation into this police death has stalled after seven months, KUOW reviewed 911 emergency phone calls, police radio audio, police statements, and spoke with Andrea Churna’s family, and fourth-floor residents who were home that evening.
Adrea Thomas Churna, called Andi by friends, worked in human resources for local tech companies. She was the mother of a 7-year-old boy — child doctors told her she was unlikely to have — and a cop’s daughter. Growing up, her friends’ parents were officers, prosecutors, and judges. Churna was taught firearm safety at an early age, and because she was a single mother living alone — and because of a previous stalker — she owned a gun.
That September evening, Redmond police arrived within three minutes of Churna’s 911 call. Officer Brian Hood found her in the apartment building courtyard at 9:46 p.m.; she was hanging from a balcony railing.
Churna told Hood that she was the one who called 911, she didn’t feel safe inside her apartment and that she had shot at someone, Hood wrote in a police statement.
Other officers headed for the fourth floor, where Churna’s apartment was located. Hood relayed to the other officers at the scene that Churna may be having mental health issues.
Hood asked Churna to climb back onto her balcony, and she did, he wrote.
“I then asked Andrea if she had access to a firearm,” Hood wrote in his police statement. “She replied, ‘Yeah,’ and ran inside the apartment simultaneously. I yelled for Andrea to stay outside but it was too late.”
Churna returned to her balcony with a handgun, Hood wrote, and he said she pointed the weapon at him. He told the other officers on scene that she was armed. Hood asked that she put her weapon down, and she briefly ran inside and then returned without the gun. She told Hood that she had placed it on a table inside.
When Hood asked Churna if her front door was unlocked, in case other officers had to enter her apartment, she ran inside to unlock it and returned to her balcony. But as Hood was explaining that it was important for Churna to follow commands, she went back inside her apartment, Hood wrote.
Standing in the hallway outside her front door were officers Ty Tomlinson and Evan Barnard.