Senior Center shooting suspect released from jail

Vigil for victim held outside the center on Dec. 21
By Brian Soergel | Dec 21, 2018
Photo by: Brian Soergel A shooting at the Edmonds Senior Center Dec. 14 claimed the life of one man. The parking lot and surrounding area, including the beach, were closed while investigators examined the scene.

UPDATE

According to the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office, the 21-year-old shooting suspect was released from Snohomish County Jail, and law enforcement is continuing to investigate this incident.

The other person arrested the 21-year-old driver, was released after posting the $10,000 bail.

A vigil for the dead victim, Alexander Rhodes, was held outside the Edmonds Senior Center Friday, Dec. 21. There was a heavy police presence.

ORIGINAL STORY

A large party at the Edmonds Senior Center Friday, Dec. 14, ended with gunfire, one man dead and another booked for second-degree murder.

According to court documents and Edmonds Police Sgt. Shane Hawley, Edmonds police officers were monitoring the private party at the Senior Center on Railroad Avenue, where they had twice been dispatched to due to noise complaints.

Officers told the group their party needed to end by midnight.

But shortly before that deadline, Officer Samuel Gagner heard a series of about seven shots from the west side of the building. He spied two men and one woman running as a group into the parking lot.

One of the men attempted to hide what Gagner thought was a gun in the waistband of his pants.

Gagner ordered the suspects to stop, but they fled in a vehicle, Gagner in pursuit.

Meanwhile, Officer Dietrich Borst approached a man lying on the lawn between the building and the beach with a bullet wound to his chest. Lifesaving attempts were not successful on the man, later identified as a 23-year-old.

Based on the location of the body and Gagner’s observation of the fleeing trio, Borst said he had reason to believe the three were murder suspects.

As Gagner pursued the suspects – they sped away from the scene on SR 104 – he estimated their car pushed 85 mph in a 35 mph zone. But Gagner caught up to the vehicle and successfully performed a high-risk stop just west of the Westgate Village shopping center at the intersection of SR 104 and 100th Avenue West, almost two miles from the Senior Center.

With the help of other officers, the suspects were successfully detained. After being read their rights, they claimed they fled the scene after hearing gunshots. But the man in the car’s back seat – a 21-year-old from SeaTac – was later confirmed to be the murder suspect.

The Edmonds PD detective unit was called and spent the night at the scene, collecting evidence and interviewing the three suspects. The Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory responded to the crime scene to help process evidence and assist detectives.

The alleged shooter and the male driver – also 21 and from SeaTac, who was arrested for eluding police – were both taken to Snohomish County Jail in Everett. The driver was booked for eluding a police officer, and the shooter for second-degree murder.

Bail was set at $1 million for the shooting suspect and $10,000 for the driver.

The third person in the vehicle, the woman, was interviewed and released.

The Senior Center had been rented out for a party, and well over 100 people were in attendance. Hawley said officers received very limited cooperation from those who remained at the location.

The firearm used in the shooting has not been recovered.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office took custody of the victim’s body and will release information about the specifics of his death.

Because of the lack of witness cooperation, detectives are requesting that anyone with information about the shooting contact them or submit tips to Epdtips@Edmondswa.gov.

According to the Senior Center website, room rentals are available evenings and weekends. The downstairs banquet hall can accommodate up to 250 people, while the upstairs ballroom can accommodate up to 180.

Senior Center statement

“On behalf of the Edmonds Senior Center we wish to express our thanks to all of those who responded to the tragic incident last Friday night,” Senior Center Executive Director Farrell Fleming said in a statement Tuesday.

“(They include) first responders from the Edmonds Police Department and South County Fire, and staff of both Edmonds Public Works and Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services. They went above and beyond, as they so often do, and we are in their debt. Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to the victim’s family and friends.

“The event was not part of the senior center programs, but a rental event. The center was closed on Monday and opened Tuesday for our full range of programs for seniors. There is an ongoing Edmonds police investigation, and information will be made public on their website as it becomes available.

“Finally, my personal thanks to the many individuals and organizations who have expressed their support of the center and its staff and volunteers during this difficult time.”

 

 

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