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20-year-old man arrested in killing of Justin Ferrari
Police have arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with the May 24 killing of Justin Ferrari, a 43-year-old software engineer who was shot as he drove through an intersection in the Central Area with his children and parents.
Seattle Times staff reporters
The distinctive red jacket and red shoes worn by a gunman who fired a fatal shot that struck a father of two as he drove through an intersection in the Central Area in May led Seattle police to a 20-year-old man who was arrested on Thursday.
The suspect was arrested in Federal Way and booked into the King County Jail on investigation of homicide just after 5 p.m. on Thursday. Prosecutors could make a charging decision in the case as early as Friday, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
The man, who is not being named by The Seattle Times because he has not yet been charged, is suspected of killing Justin Ferrari, a 43-year-old software engineer and youth water-polo coach, on May 24.
Police say they believe Ferrari was struck by a bullet being fired at someone else.
Court records indicate the man had been arrested in connection with domestic violence in Auburn a month before the shooting, and was ordered by the court not to possess a gun.
Witnesses described the shooter's attire and detectives pored over surveillance footage from Metro buses and located their suspect on video. They were then able to show the suspect's photo around and come up with a name, said one source with knowledge of the investigation.
Seattle Police Department spokesman Jeff Kappel said the work of the department's Gang Unit detectives was pivotal to the case.
"They were chasing down leads and pounding the pavement," said Kappel. "It really was good old-fashioned police work."
Search warrants were served at several locations in Seattle and South King County on Thursday, including a house on 31st Avenue in Seattle, a quarter-mile away from East Cherry Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way where Ferrari was shot.
Some neighbors of the house on 31st Avenue, who declined to be named, said they had called police after Ferrari's death.
One man said the house is a haven for young men who he believes may have gang affiliations.
The neighbor said he had seen a young man at the home who matched a description given out by police after the shooting. He became suspicious and called police, he said, when the man disappeared after the shooting.
"I didn't see him after that day, but he came back once this week," the neighbor said.
Residents of the home that was searched on 31st Avenue, who also asked not to be named, denied the suspect had ever been a guest in the home. One resident said the raid on Thursday morning was "a case of mistaken identity."
According to police, Ferrari was driving a white Volkswagen van, accompanied by his children and parents, when he stopped at an intersection. He was struck in the head by a bullet apparently fired by one man across the street at another, police said.
Witnesses told investigators they had heard men arguing before shots were fired, police said.
Ferrari's death was the city's 15th homicide this year and came just over a month after a 21-year-old culinary student and Seattle newcomer was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Since Ferrari's killing, seven more people have died by homicide, bringing the city's total for the year to 22 — two more than in all of 2011. All but two of the killings have been by gunfire.
The violence has rattled the city and prompted Mayor Mike McGinn to hold a town-hall meeting to talk about it. Police have increased patrols in hot-spot areas, and state and federal prosecutors promised prison time for criminals caught with guns.
According to court records, the suspect in Ferrari's killing has an arrest record that includes juvenile charges for third-degree theft, residential burglary and criminal trespass. He has never been convicted of a felony as an adult in King County, although he was arrested in April 2011 for possession of a controlled substance. The charge was reduced to misdemeanor criminal solicitation, court records show.
The documents say the suspect, who was then 18, had raw and bloody knuckles when he was arrested for participating in a series of fistfights in downtown Seattle, according to the probable-cause statement in the case. When he was arrested, officers found 12 Ecstasy tablets in his basketball shorts and he told them he took the drug daily, the statement says.
Most recently, the suspect was charged in Auburn Municipal Court with fourth-degree domestic-violence assault. As part of that case, which is pending, the court ordered him on April 26 not to possess any firearms — one month before the shot that killed Ferrari was fired.
Times reporter Jennifer Sullivan and news researchers Miyoko Wolf, David Turim and Gene Balk contributed to this report.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or email@example.com