MARYSVILLE — More than a dozen sheriff’s vehicles converged on a cul-de-sac near Marysville-Pilchuck High School on Friday afternoon to apprehend Erick N. Walker, the suspect in the shooting death of 15-year-old Molly Conley, as he drove away from his house. Then investigators removed a gun and multiple clips of ammunition from Walker’s car, according to a neighbor.
“It was very frightening,” recalled Sandra Torres, whose daughter Marina took a picture of Walker being taken into custody.
Walker, 26, was booked into Snohomish County Jail late Friday on suspicion of first-degree murder in the June 1 drive-by shooting of Conley of Seattle.
Known as “4.0” because of her grades at Bishop Blanchet High School, Conley was shot and killed while celebrating her 15th birthday with friends in Lake Stevens.
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Walker, who has not been formally charged, is to make a first court appearance on Monday where prosecutors are expected to ask for high bail. Charges are not expected to be filed until later in the week.
Detectives believe Conley was a random victim of a shooting spree and that Walker did not know her, according to a law-enforcement source familiar with the investigation.
Conley was walking with classmates along South Lake Stevens Road at 11:18 p.m. when someone in a passing vehicle opened fire, striking her in the neck with a bullet.
Officials said they received 911 calls reporting at least two other drive-by shootings in the area later that night, which resulted in property damage.
Detectives believe all the shootings were related, the law-enforcement official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Walker also was booked on suspicion of five counts of second-degree assault with a weapon tied to the shots fired toward Conley’s friends, and four counts of drive-by shooting, some stemming from the other incidents.
Two court-approved search warrants were served Friday on Walker’s house and his car, the official said.
It was not clear what led investigators to Walker, but authorities had been seeking tips from the public and Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound had offered a $34,000 reward.
Walker’s only police record is a list of traffic violations, mostly speeding tickets.
Walker’s Facebook page features a photo of rifles and handguns and says he graduated from Stanwood High School and ITT Technical Institute in Everett, where he studied computer network systems, and that he has worked at Boeing.
His neighbors said Walker moved into the house several months ago. A couple of them met his father, who helped his son get situated in the house.
After that, Walker kept to himself.
“The most we ever did was wave. Nobody ever spoke to him,” said Lauri Manley, who lives next door.
Manley said sheriff’s vehicles clogged her cul-de-sac, at 58th Drive Northeast, on Friday and authorities spent hours going through Walker’s house.
“I was scared,” Manley said. “Then I thought, maybe I’m blessed because he would not bring this kind of problem right into his neighborhood.”
Conley’s mother and stepfather released a statement to media Saturday saying they hope the arrest is helpful to the Lake Stevens community.
“We are grateful to all at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s office and especially Brad Pince, detective-Major Crimes Unit for his work and his kindness to us during this horrific time,” wrote Susan and Matthew Arksey.
Conley’s mother also wrote a message on the “Remembering Molly Conley” Facebook page on Saturday recalling her daughter’s week of birthday celebrations, just before she died.
“We are missing our darling Molly so very much and our hearts are aching,” Susan Arksey wrote. “It was a week of joys and as with everything with Molly, so fun and filled with love.”
Seattle Times reporters Tan Vinh and Brian M. Rosenthal and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this story.
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter @AllisonSeattle. Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or email@example.com Twitter @stevemiletich