When a Kirkland man was shot in January after refusing to comply with a stranger’s demand that he be driven to a nearby park-and-ride lot, police thought they were investigating an attempted carjacking, according to a news release issued at the time.
But criminal charges filed last week against a 44-year-old Everett man revealed a more complex plot: King County prosecutors say the shooting victim and his girlfriend were being stalked by her ex-boyfriend, who is accused of installing GPS tracking devices on both of their cars to monitor their movements.
A Kirkland police detective moved the GPS tracker from the woman’s car to a bait car, then an arrest team moved in and took Zachary Rudland into custody when he showed up at the motel where the car was parked Feb. 24, prosecutors say. He remains jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail, jail records show.
Rudland has since been charged with first-degree assault for the Jan. 23 shooting in the 10700 block of Northeast 143rd Place. He was also charged with felony stalking and domestic-violence stalking, court records show.
“[T]he sophistication he showed tracking his ex-girlfriend and his willingness to shoot her current boyfriend demonstrates an exceptional level of fixation and lethality,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor David Ryan wrote in charging papers.
According to the charges:
Just after 6 p.m. on Jan. 23, a 32-year-old man called 911 and reported he had just been shot while seated in his car inside his garage and the suspect, who was wearing a green rain Poncho, had run eastbound from the scene. The man was taken to Harborview Medical Center and later released but is awaiting a follow-up surgery.
The man later told police he had just returned home from the gym and pulled into his garage when the suspect approached from behind the man’s car, pulled a gun and ordered him to drive the suspect to a park-and-ride. When the man refused, the suspect fired a single shot through the driver’s side window, striking the man in the left shoulder. The suspect then got in the back seat and continued threatening the man with the gun and ordering him to drive. Instead, the man ran for help and locked the suspect in the car. The man last saw the suspect when he looked back as he was running away and saw the suspect fleeing in another direction.
The detective assigned to the shooting case was contacted Feb. 19 by the victim’s girlfriend, who said she suspected her ex-boyfriend was stalking her. Starting around Jan. 10, she described six incidents in which her ex-boyfriend — Rudland — had shown up in public places where she was, followed her in traffic and driven by her current boyfriend’s house, the charges say. The detective told her it sounded like she was being tracked and had the woman bring her car to the police department.
During an inspection of her vehicle two days later, the detective found a GPS tracker affixed to the car’s undercarriage. The woman, who had told Rudland not to contact her and had blocked him on her social-media accounts after their breakup, “was visibly shaken at the discovery of the device,” the detective wrote in charging papers.
That’s when the detective devised the scheme to put the GPS tracker on a bait car and a surveillance team watched as Rudland navigated through the Totem Lake Motel’s parking lot, using his phone to arrive at the bait car’s location, where he was arrested on investigation of stalking. According to police, he denied knowledge of the earlier shooting.
After his arrest, one of Rudland’s friends called police and told the detective Rudland had admitted to stalking both victims and shooting at the man, who he apparently didn’t think he had hit. The friend said Rudland wore a disguise, later threw the gun into Silver Lake, and removed the GPS tracker from the man’s car immediately after it was released from police impound.
Investigators got search warrants for both GPS devices as well as Rudland’s phone, car and residence and seized evidence, including a green hooded windbreaker, latex gloves, binoculars, a stun gun and a handgun that was ruled out as the gun used in the shooting, the charges say.
Investigators were also able to prove the friend’s claim that Rudland had removed the GPS tracker from the male victim’s car by reviewing video-surveillance footage that captured images of Rudland’s car driving through the police department’s parking lot; data from the GPS tracker showed the victim’s car was moved from the police station to a nearby auto-repair shop, but then ended up at Rudland’s home address, according to the charges.
“Rudland went to great lengths to conceal his crime by monitoring the movement of (the victim’s) Dodge Charger and removing the installed tracker at the first opportunity when it was moved out of police impound,” the detective wrote in charging papers.