This news story was updated at 1:20 p.m.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – John Lindberg told jurors he was two steps behind David West Sr. after West Sr. grabbed a shotgun from his bedroom, walked down the hallway, cocked it, and aimed toward the dining room table, trying to get John A. Booth and Ryan J. McCarthy to leave his house on Wings Way.
That’s when the shooting began, Lindberg said.
“The gunfire, it wasn’t from the shotgun, it was rapid fire,” he said.
As West Sr. began to topple, Lindberg ran back to the master bedroom, he said.
Now, Lindberg, a plumber, is one of only two individuals alive – other than the accused pair – who were inside the home that night where four people were subsequently found shot, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.
Denise Salts, then 51, survived a gunshot in her face and is expected to testify today in Booth’s triple murder trial.
It was about 2 a.m. on Aug. 21 of last year when deputies were called to the rambler in the Salkum-Onalaska area. Inside, 52-year-old West Sr, his 16-year-old son David West Jr. and a friend Tony E. Williams, 50, of Randle were dead. Salts lay bleeding on the kitchen floor.
McCarthy, 30, has been sent to prison for 14 years after a plea agreement, where he did not admit guilt. Booth, 32, is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, attempted murder and other offenses. His trial began Monday and is expected to go through next week.
Under questioning by attorneys yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court, Lindberg told what he heard, saw and recalled from that night. At times, his voice broke as he described fearing he would be killed, and how he hid out until only he and the victims remained in the house.
Lindberg had arrived about 12:30 a.m. to visit, and was followed into the West’s home by Booth and McCarthy, two people he said he had never met before.
They conversed at a dining room table as West Sr. spoke of getting a title to a truck for Booth. Lindberg said.
Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher questioned Lindberg at length.
Booth asked West Sr. if they could talk outside, and then they stepped out for 15 to 20 minutes, Lindberg said.
Salts was in the living room with someone else, he said.
When West Sr. came back inside, he asked Lindberg if he had any money, Lindberg relayed. He told him he only had $100, but followed him to the master bedroom, and told him he had more on him, but didn’t want to say so in front of Booth, Lindberg testified.
“His face was red, beet red, he looked pretty stressed out,” Lindberg said of West Sr.
That’s when West Sr. picked up the gun and said “”F*** it, I’m going to end this bullshit once and for all,” Lindberg said.
Lindberg said under questioning when West Sr. started to fall, he fled to the back bedroom where he paced back and forth. He had seen McCarthy at the dining room table, but couldn’t see Booth, he said.
From the bedroom, he said, he heard Salts, but not what she was saying, and heard something hit the floor.
“I heard Tony’s voice,” he said. “Don’t, don’t, you don’t have to shoot, Lindberg relayed.”
Then a sound like a gun was jammed, or being reloaded, he said, and then another “bang”.
“Did you stay where you were at?” Deputy Prosecutor Meagher asked.
“Yeah,” Lindberg said, covering part of his face with one hand and stifling a sob.
“I thought I was gonna die next,” he said.
Lindberg said he heard footsteps coming down hall, and he froze, but then he took a look out the doorway.
“I could see McCarthy going in this room, next the boy is here, Booth was there,” he said. “Booth had the boy by the hair.”
Lindberg said he was an arms-length away from West Sr. and when the men’s backs were turned, he darted behind them into the master bathroom.
As he was closing the door, he said, “I hear a bang, another gunshot, then I hear the boy hit the floor.”
It was dark and he felt around but could not find a window, he said. All he could hear was the fan, he said. There were no more shots, he said.
“Boy, it seemed like forever, 20, 30 minutes,” Lindberg said. “I started praying … cause I didn’t want to die.”
Finally, he looked out and could see the front door was open, he said.
“I had to control myself to jump over Dave’s body, the shotgun,” he said. “I ran.”
Lindberg said he went to the gate and looked around for the men, and noticed their car was gone. He got in his car and drove away fast, he said.
Lindberg headed east on Gore Road and saw a car pass him coming the other way, he said. He kept going, he thought they were returning to kill him, he said.
Then Lindberg, who carries a police scanner in his car, heard his license plate on the scanner and stopped, he said.
Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Matt Wallace arrived and asked if he was alright. He said no.
Wallace testified Lindberg was shaking and crying, almost unable to control his hands.
“He told me what happened,” Wallace said.
Witnesses continue to testify today in the Chehalis courtroom, including the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsies.
The trial is expected to run through next week.