As we hinted at in our previous post, maybe it’s the holiday-season craziness that’s bringing out the worst in everyone. From a poker-room robbery on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to a stabbing incident in a poker casino in southwest Washington State, not that far from Portland, Oregon, here we go again.
And it’s another 40-something loser at the core of this tale as well. On Monday night, just a few minutes before midnight, 41-year-old Scott Robert Harmier snapped in what authorities called a “random, unprovoked attack,” stabbing four people multiple times at the Last Frontier Casino in La Center, Washington.
The Last Frontier Casino is a poker-only room, as many “casinos” offering poker exist up and down the West Coast, and it sits just north of Vancouver, Washington, which is across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Out of nowhere, in what is the type of random and violent occurrence that every poker player fears, Harmier suddenly pulled out a hunting knife and began stabbing other players at the table.
The Clark County (WA) Sheriff’s Department, which ended up arresting Harmier after a high-speed vehicular chase, issued what it calls a “flash statement” about the Last Frontier incident. It starts like this:
“Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) received several 911 calls from people at the casino stating at least three people had been stabbed in what was described as a random, unprovoked attack. Several employees and visitors at the casino witnessed the event and attempted to confront the suspect but he was still armed with what was described as a hunting knife. The suspect, described as bald, heavy-set male, approximately in his mid-40’s with a gray hoodie, fled the location in a white Nissan sedan that was reported to be heading toward Interstate 5.”
Later, the bulletin offered some greater detail about the actual attack:
“Detectives were able to review video from the casino. The video showed the suspect sitting at a poker table when he reached down with his right hand and grabbed something. Without provocation or warning, the suspect then appeared to stand and began to stab the male sitting to his left approximately five times in the head and chest area. Multiple patrons attempted to intervene, but the suspect began swinging the knife at them. The suspect then approached a female that was sitting at the same poker table and appeared to try and stab the female three times. The suspect then chased a male outside into the parking lot while swinging at the male. The male fell to the ground and the suspect appeared to stab him two more times. A large amount of blood was on the ground in the parking lot where he was stabbed. The suspect was then seen getting into a white sedan and driving off.”
Harmier made it into his car, out of the casino’s parking lot, and onto the nearby interstate, heading south toward Vancouver, where he resides. But within 15 minutes, Clark County sheriff’s patrols had spotted his car and began a high-speed pursuit, first south on the interstate, then east on a major four-lane beltway just outside Vancouver.
The pursuing police then did a PIT maneuver on Harmier’s car, successfully disabling it, and Harmier was taken into custody without further incident. He was arraigned in a Clark County courtroom the next morning and charged with four counts of felony assault. He’ll likely face additional charges related to the high-speed pursuit, though if some sort of plea deal is offered and accepted down the road — no pun intended — those secondary charges often go away. (Update: Late on Tuesday: Clark County prosecutors added a count off felony eluding to the charges against Harmier — hh.)
Harmier, meanwhile, sits in the Clark County jail without bond. What remains unknown publicly is what triggered the bizarre attack, though Harmier himself has a shadowy past. The Columbian’s report on the attack, chase, and arrest includes some background and shows that Harmier has a lengthy criminal record, including one or more convictions for violent domestic abuse.
There’s some good news out of the violence. The Clark County Sheriff’s flash report stated that all four stabbing victims received non-life-threatening wounds, and while all of the victims were transported to a local hospital, three of the four were released within hours. The Last Frontier issued a statement itself wherein it expressed its sadness over the incident and stated that counseling services might be offered to the victims and other who were affected by the attack.
And as for poker? Just a few hours later, the room began its return to normal, as the games resumed late Tuesday morning at the Last Frontier. That part seems both normal and typical; poker has a way of carrying on through such events, doesn’t it.