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Originally published October 7, 2013 at 9:38 PM | Page modified October 7, 2013 at 10:39 PM

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Slain soldier’s friend: no reason for killing

A soldier who was present when another soldier was fatally stabbed in Lakewood on Saturday said he doesn’t know why his friend was attacked: “It’s a pity someone had to stoop that low.”

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A soldier who was present when another soldier was fatally stabbed in Lakewood Saturday said he doesn’t know why his friend was attacked — and said there can be no good reason.

“I pity them for whatever forced them to want to kill someone for nothing,” Spc. Brian Johnson said Monday, “It’s a pity someone had to stoop that low.”

The three men jailed in the case, and the victim, Spc. Tevin Geike, 20, of Summerville, S.C, are all soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, according to Lakewood police.

The suspects are expected to make initial appearances in Pierce County Superior Court on Tuesday.

Although all three men, a 23-year-old and two 21-year-olds, were booked into jail early Monday on investigation of a murder charge, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist suggested the most serious charge would likely be filed against just one of the men.

Police found the weapon used in the stabbing in a wooded area in Tillicum, Pierce County, Monday afternoon, said a news release from the Lakewood Police Department.

“There was only one individual who stabbed the victim,” Lindquist said. He said prosecutors Monday were going over the evidence in the case before deciding what charges will be filed in connection to the crime.

Johnson on Monday turned aside questions on whether the attack may have been racially motivated, a possibility raised in police accounts over the weekend. According to those initial reports, the suspects, all African American, may have made a comment about Geike and his companions being white.

But Monday, Lakewood Police Lt. Chris Lawler said, “It appears from interviewing everyone involved that race was not a motivating factor in this homicide.”

Lawler said the two men who were with the attacker told police they were surprised their companion attacked Geike, and they did not know why he did it, police said.

Meanwhile, those who knew the victim struggled to make sense of what happened.

“Tevin was a funny guy. He always knew how to make you laugh,” said Ramona Benningfield, 22, who lives on the base, where her Army husband is stationed.

Benningfield said Geike considered her his “adopted sister,” because of their closeness and playful arguments. “Everybody thought we were brother and sister because of the way we’d fight.”

She said Geike “loved to play beer pong and Ping-Pong. And he loved just driving around.”

Sometimes he would go with friends to a costume shop, and they would put on costumes and take photos of one another.

The arrests came after Lakewood police were contacted Sunday by an Army sergeant who said he had information on the stabbing.

The sergeant said another soldier had been asked by the 23-year-old for first aid for a knife wound on his hand. The man told the soldier he had injured himself when he fatally stabbed someone, according to police.

But later, that suspect told the soldier he had cut his hand while chopping vegetables, police said. And after he was taken to Madigan Army Medical Center, he told hospital staffers he had cut his hand on a parachute cord, police said.

Separately, another person believed to be involved in the attack was brought in by police for an interview.

He told detectives he was in a vehicle with four friends riding along Pacific Highway Southwest when words were exchanged between men on the street and the people in the car, police said.

He said they stopped to talk to the victims, but nothing happened once they discovered they were all active-duty soldiers, according to police.

But as the suspects walked back to their car, the soldier said, the 23-year-old suspect appeared to “bear hug” the victim and pushed him to the ground, police said.

The soldier told people that the suspect was covered in blood when he got to the car, according to police.

Jack Broom: jbroom@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2222

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