Both CWU students died from gunshot wounds to head, coroner says - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Both CWU students died from gunshot wounds to head, coroner says

Posted: Updated:

10-24-18 UPDATE:

ELLENSBURG, WA - A bit more is now known about the fatal shooting last week in Ellensburg.

The Kittitas County Coroner says the two college students who were tragically killed in a shooting both died after they were shot in the head with a shotgun.

22-year-old Michael Demchuck and his friend, 21-year-old Austin McKenzie, died on the night of Thursday, October 18 from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Both were seniors at Central Washington University and Army ROTC members.

Ellensburg Police detectives believe Demchuck died after McKenzie accidentally shot him while at a dinner at a home on N. Ellington Street. Police believe McKenzie died after he then shot himself.

Police said it is presumed McKenzie made a split-second decision to turn the gun on himself, but said they will never really know.

They said nothing at the scene of the shooting indicated alcohol was a factor in this incident. 

Police are now waiting on lab results.



ELLENSBURG, WA - Two senior ROTC members at Central Washington University are dead after an accidental shooting and suicide. 

Ellensburg Police received a call around 8:50 p.m. on Thursday, October 18th of two gunshot victims at a house on the 2600 block of North Ellington Street. 

Police say a 21 year-old man accidentally shot and killed a 22 year-old man, he then shot himself. 

Police are not looking for any suspects and have identified all people involved in the incident. The individuals at the residence were all friends and there is no indication at this time of foul play being involved. Both victims were members of Central Washington University ROTC Program. 

The President of Central Washington James Gaudino sent an email to all students offering condolences to the students families and students:

Dear Wildcats, 

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I bring you news of the death of two students in their home north of campus last night. These young men were senior members of our Army ROTC program.

Ellensburg police are investigating the circumstance of this horrible tragedy; the full scope of the incident is not known yet. 

Major Bonnie Kovatch, commander of our Army ROTC program and I met with the students’ parents. We have also spoken with the other cadets, members of the cadre, and staff. Words are not enough in impossibly difficult times. But we wanted to listen to those who knew these students best, and to express our deepest regrets.

CWU will provide support to those grieving the loss of these students and offer assistance to those who need it now or in the days and weeks ahead. We will also offer our highest level of support to the students’ families during this very difficult time.


James L. Gaudino, President

CWU Support Services

  • Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 and Press “1” or send text to 838255. This is open to all military, not just veterans, and workers are particularly trained in military culture and concerns.
  • Text Crisis Line: Text “STEVE” to 74174 (staffed by volunteers specifically trained to be sensitive to students of color and their unique concerns).
  • Text Crisis Line: Text “HOME” to 741741 (staffed by trained volunteers).
  • Student Medical and Counseling Clinic 509-963-1391
  • Staff 24/7 by master’s level counselors. Although local to Ellensburg, can be called from anywhere.
  • Open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Walk-in appointments available during all open hours.
  • Local Crisis Line 509-925-4168
  • Drop-in support will take place from 8:30-:500 p.m. in the Cadet Lounge in Lind Hall today (Friday, October 19, 2018). Just come by to talk if you need to. Individually or in groups.