King County prosecutors say a 34-year-old man used a hacksaw to break into his brother’s gun safe more than a week before he fatally shot his estranged wife with a stolen gun as she wrapped up her bartending shift at a Bellevue tavern on Monday night.
Dylan Jennings, whose last known address is in Edmonds, was charged Thursday with premeditated first-degree murder domestic violence, with prosecutors alleging that the killing of his wife was part of an ongoing pattern of psychological, physical or sexual abuse over a prolonged period of time, according to charging papers. Jennings was also charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
Jennings remains jailed in lieu of $3 million bail, jail records show. It did not appear that a defense attorney had been assigned to his case as of Thursday evening.
The shooting death of Anna “Maxx” Lopez, 26, has hit her friends and co-workers at Sam’s Tavern extremely hard, owner James Snyder said. On Thursday, 60 employees who work at Sam’s four locations in Seattle and on the Eastside met at the South Lake Union tavern, where they committed to raising money for local programs that aid domestic-violence survivors and empowering others within the restaurant and hospitality industry who’ve been exposed to domestic violence, Snyder said.
Lopez had separated from Jennings and was dating someone else at the time of her death, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Petersen wrote in charging papers.
Jennings — who is accused of fatally shooting Lopez in front of her boyfriend because he wanted the other man to have to “live with it” — knew his wife’s work schedule and drove to Bellevue with the express plan of killing her, the charges say.
“The defendant confessed to investigators that he killed his estranged wife because she was involved with someone else,” Petersen wrote in the charges. “During the interview with investigators, the defendant showed no remorse and blamed his estranged wife for leaving him and for dating someone else. He referred to his actions as ‘taking care of business.'”
Court records show Jennings was arrested by Seattle police in March 2015 for strangling and beating a previous girlfriend, who told police Jennings was an experienced military martial arts instructor who had threatened to kill her. Originally charged with second-degree assault and several other domestic-violence crimes, Jennings ultimately pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment and was sentenced to eight months in jail, according to court records.
Just after 10 p.m. Monday, Lopez’s boyfriend called 911 and reported that Lopez had been shot by her ex-husband while finishing up her shift at Sam’s Tavern in the 900 block of 108th Avenue Northeast, say the charges. She died at the scene.
A short time later, Jennings’ brother called 911 and said Jennings had called him and admitted to shooting Lopez; it was at that time that the brother noticed his handgun was missing and reported it stolen to police, charging papers say.
Jennings’ father also called 911 and told a dispatcher his son Dylan had called him while he was fleeing the shooting scene on foot, say the charges.
Police found Jennings hiding near some shrubs a half-mile north of Sam’s Tavern on 108th Avenue Northeast and placed him under arrest. Investigators later learned Jennings lived with his brother and had taken his brother’s gun safe out of his brother’s room 1 1/2 weeks earlier, broke it open and stole the 9 mm handgun he used in the shooting.
Snyder, the owner of four Sam’s Taverns in Bellevue, Redmond and on Capitol Hill and South Lake Union in Seattle, said his wife hired Lopez as a bartender and server in January 2020.
Lopez didn’t know Snyder was her boss the first time she waited on him: “She greeted me quickly and had this bubbly, genuine personality,” recalled Snyder. He said he was so impressed by Lopez that he texted his regional manager to ask who she was.
Snyder said he’s learned more about Lopez over the past three days through hearing stories from her coworkers.
“She’s a really authentic person, a really caring person … who will inspire how we run our company forever,” Snyder said. “It’s such a tragedy and we’re all working through it together.”
Sam’s Tavern locations in Redmond and South Lake Union will reopen Friday, followed by the Capitol Hill location on Saturday, he said. A date hasn’t been determined for the reopening of Sam’s Tavern in Bellevue.
A memorial for Lopez will be held July 17 from 1-8 p.m. at Golden Gardens Park in Seattle. In honor of Lopez, Sam’s Tavern has launched a GoFundMe campaign, with the goal of raising $100,000 to benefit LifeWire, a Bellevue-based nonprofit that serves domestic-violence survivors in east and north King County.
“It’s got to change,” Snyder said of the larger issues of domestic and gender-based violence. “And we’ve got to try our best to be a part of it.”