Suspect jailed in Kent gas station double homicide
Kent police arrested one man and detained another Wednesday evening in connection with a double homicide that morning at a Kent gas station.
Seattle Times staff reporters
A 29-year-old man was booked into the King County Jail just after midnight for investigation of two counts of homicide in the slayings of two gas station employees Wednesday morning.
Kent police Cmdr. Jarod Kasner said investigators questioned a second man for several hours, but released him. Kasner said the investigation is continuing, he didn’t rule out the possibility of additional arrests.
The man booked into the downtown Seattle jail has prior King County Jail bookings for investigation of DUI, reckless driving, assault, drug possession, according to a law enforcement source. In May, he was booked into jail for investigation of burglary and felony harassment.
The man is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Thursday afternoon.
Kent police said they searched a home in Burien early Thursday in connection with the double homicide. Kasner did not have information about whose home was searched and what investigators found. He said that after getting some rest, detectives will return to work Thursday morning to continue the investigation.
The incident began when a confrontation near the gas pumps erupted into gunfire, killing the two employees and sending customers scurrying for cover.
When police arrived at the combination Shell station and Wendy’s restaurant around 8:40 a.m. they found both victims dead on the pavement.
A witness to the shootings said the two men had become involved in a scuffle with the passenger of a vehicle parked haphazardly at a gas pump. The witness said that when the driver of that car saw his friend was in trouble, he pulled out a gun and fired several times.
Kent police said several people saw the shootings.
Wednesday evening, Kasner said police had also impounded two vehicles.
Kasner declined to say whether any guns had been recovered.
He said the men and vehicles were believed connected to the shooting, but he would not provide specifics. Police were led to the two through “multiple sources of information,” including surveillance video and eyewitness accounts, he said.
Kasner said police had confirmed the name of one of the victims but were not saying whether they were employed by the business. However, a source close to the investigation said the two men killed worked at the gas station.
When reached in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday, a secretary for business owner Jim Karam said she did not know about the shootings. She said she would pass a message to Karam.
One customer, who asked only to be identified as a 27-year-old flooring installer, said he was fueling his car at the Shell station around 8:30 a.m. when he saw the shooting.
He said a man and a male companion had haphazardly parked a Cadillac sedan in front of the gas pumps, blocking the access of other drivers. All four doors of the car were open and loud rap music was blaring, he said.
“They were causing a big scene,” the witness said. “They were idiots.”
The customer looked toward the Wendy’s, which shares the building with the gas station, and saw the passenger of the Cadillac get into an argument with at least two men near the gas pumps. Another witness told KOMO-TV the argument was sparked by the way the Cadillac had been parked.
Shoves were exchanged, and at one point someone threw a punch at the passenger, the witness told The Times.
The Cadillac driver, who was standing near the car, looked at the witness. The driver asked the man if he was taking down the license-plate number. When the witness replied he was not, the driver apparently realized that his passenger was involved in a fight.
The driver then reached into the car and pulled out a handgun, the witness said.
The man opened fire on the men who had been arguing with the passenger, he said. He believes eight to 10 shots were fired.
The witness took cover behind a car and dialed 911. The two men then got into the Cadillac and sped off, he said.
The witness said he walked up to the two victims and saw they were not moving. He said he couldn’t offer a good description of the gunman or his passenger.
Employees at the gas station/fast-food restaurant declined to comment.
Looking back on the incident, the witness said it appeared the two men in the Cadillac were being deliberately belligerent.
“These guys were looking for a fight. They were mean-mugging everybody,” he said.