Moore's Metal Works in Cle Elum

Photo: Google Maps

ELLENSBURG - A Cle Elum business owner's absence from work may have saved his life after an armed and disgruntled employee went looking for them at a metal shop on the east side of town in the late morning on Friday.

Kittitas County Sheriff's officials say two Moore's Metal Works employees called 911 at around 11:30 a.m. on Friday when another employee, 55-year-old Tom Hester, threatened the company's owner over the phone and was walking around the business with a shotgun.

The employees who called 911 told authorities that Hester was damaging vehicles and equipment belonging to the owner of Moore's Metal Works. The owner was not at the shop during the ordeal.

Hester reportedly lived in a room at the business.

Hester did not respond to requests to surrender from Cle Elum Police which prompted a response from a tactical unit and a team of negotiators. During the standoff, Hester reportedly fired several shots inside the business, but no one was hurt.

Hester briefly came outside several times, sometimes shouting at law enforcement before going back in the business. Negotiators made repeated phone contact with Hester, his friends and family members in efforts to resolve the standoff.

At about 3:30 pm, Hester peacefully surrendered. Hester is expected to be criminally charged for threats and property damage.

The nature of Hester's threats towards the business owner were not disclosed nor was the nature of the dispute.