Moffat graduate shot to death
Man brought grenade to Seattle Federal Courthouse
Friends say Craig native Perry Manley did in death what he couldn’t do in the last 15 years of his life — get national attention for a cause about which he was fanatical.
Sadly, Manley’s acquaintances said, his methods of gaining attention resulted in his death Monday.
Manley, a 1972 Moffat County High School graduate, walked into Seattle’s Federal Courthouse on Monday carrying a defused fragmentation grenade and wearing a backpack strapped across his chest. Security officers s aw the World War II-era hand grenade and confronted him. Officers spent 20 minutes trying to persuade him to surrender, finally shooting twice when Manley “made a furtive movement with the grenade,” U.S. Marshal Eric Robertson said in a news conference Monday.
Witnesses said Manley tried to get past security and began shouting threats, police spokeswoman Christie-Lynne Bonner said. The nature of the threats was not disclosed.
Courthouse visitor Chay Adams said she watched as authorities confronted the man, who appeared to be in his mid-50s and had been sitting on a bench.
“He yelled, ‘Don’t come near me, don’t come near me! Stay away, stay away!'” she said.
Officers shot the man twice, once in the head and again in the chest, and he slumped forward, Adams said.
In Manley’s backpack was a cutting board that officers believe was for protection against bullets, and a living will.
Seattle police Chief Gil Kerlikowske speculates that Manley was attempting a “suicide by cop,” based on the items that were in his backpack.
Former Craig resident Darlene Kemery, who once was engaged to Manley, doesn’t think that’s the case.
She think that the event was one of Manley’s many attempts to get media attention for his demands to eliminate court-ordered child support. He sent mass e-mails, filed suits against judges who sign child-support orders and accused them of treason. Less than a month ago, he scheduled a flag burning at the Seattle Federal Building. The event was attended by one reporter — a representative of a publication for the homeless.
He called child support “forced labor,” saying courts forced fathers into working for children they no longer raised.
“I think he just went off the deep end,” Kemery said. “I don’t believe he really went down to (the Federal Building) with a death wish, I think he just wanted someone to notice.”
Kemery graduated from Moffat County two years after Manley. The two became engaged during Kemery’s junior year when Manley worked as a photographer and pressman at the Craig Empire-Courier. They broke it off nearly two years later when Manley was on leave from the Navy.
They both ended up marrying other people.
“Every time something went wrong in my marriage, I thought this was my punishment for not marrying the person I was supposed to,” Kemery said.
Kemery and Manley reconnected in 1998 when their mothers died a week apart. It turned out they were both living in Washington and within 65 miles of each other.
When they met, Manley was living in a car.
“I basically tried to help him get back on his feet because he’d basically lost everything due to child support,” Kemery said.
The two became very close — never rekindling the old love — but being someone each could talk to. Kemery said the two talked at least once a week.
The car was towed in 2001, and Manley moved into the William Booth Center, a center run by the Salvation Army to provide housing and support services to homeless men.
While there, Manley was trained as a chef. He worked at several restaurants, each for a shorter length of time. He was fired from his job as a hospital cook on April 30.
“As time went on, his employment record got shorter and shorter,” Kemery said.
His personal situation gave way to a very public protest. Manley blamed his situation on the $600 a month child support payments he was court-ordered to pay his ex-wife, Susan Calhoun.
“Even though he fulfilled his obligation for child support, he still thought the court system needed to be changed,” Kemery said.
He asked her to make him a Grim Reaper costume, which he wore when walking the streets protesting out loud his opposition to child support.
“I can see looking back that he was getting closer and closer to the edge,” Kemery said.
Manley sent Kemery a copy of the living will he had with him when he died. In it, he left all his possessions to his daughter, Kristen, who, according to Kemery, was, until recently, estranged.
Kristen is one of Manley’s three children. The two had lunch a couple of times and dinner. Kemery said Manley’s request to walk his daughter down the aisle when she gets married next month was denied. She thinks that’s what drove him over the edge.
“I think he just kind of snapped,” she said.
She said she’ll miss the friend she had and still reaches for the phone to call him and share the day’s events.
Manley is one of 12 children. LuAnn Kline, who also graduated two years before Manley, said the family lived on North Yampa Avenue. Manley has a sister who still lives in Craig, but she declined comment when contacted Tuesday.
She, too, was a recipient of Manley’s e-mails, which she immediately threw in the trash. One of his e-mails reads “Fathers are treated like animals. Society beats this dog, starves this dog, and when this dog serves no further purpose YOU SHOOT THIS DOG.”
Another e-mail he sent to reporters, government officials and friends reads:”To whom it may concern: My name is Perry L. Manley, I would like to ask for help. The Government of the United States and The Government of the State of Washington has joined together in efforts to deny a citizen of the United States the basic Human Rights [ Food, Shelter, ] I am forced to pay the government 50 percent of all I’m worth and can earn in child-support and 28 percent to government tax.”
Manley’s home was searched by U.S. Marshals after he filed a suit against a U.S. District Judge for committing “treason,” a violation which he said was punishable by death, which was interpreted as a death threat.
According to Kemery, Manley thought that requiring a person to pay child support was comparable to “living in servitude to another.”
“Until these last few years, he seemed perfectly normal,” Kline said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.