Rigoberto Alvarado Jr. was released from state prison two weeks before he fatally shot a man in the chest and pistol-whipped another during a botched robbery at an Auburn auto-repair shop last month, according to King County prosecutors.

Alvarado, 26, is now facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 56-year-old Gregory Deckman. He is also charged with second-degree assault for the attack on Deckman’s co-worker, who suffered a skull fracture, and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Alvarado has a criminal history that includes 13 felony convictions, court records show. In July 2018, he assaulted a man and stole his car from a Kent apartment complex, then led Federal Way police on a high-speed pursuit, the records say. He later was sentenced to nearly 2 1/2 years in prison and was released March 17.

Two weeks later, on March 31, Deckman was fatally shot in the chest and his co-worker was struck in the back of the head with a handgun by an unknown assailant, who fled the scene in a pickup, Auburn police said at the time.

Rigoberto Alvarado was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the March 31 shooting death of 56-year-old Gregory Deckman in Auburn on March 31.  (DOC)
Rigoberto Alvarado was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the March 31 shooting death of 56-year-old Gregory Deckman in Auburn on March 31. (DOC)

Then on April 10, Auburn police arrested Alvarado on investigation of first-degree trespassing and possessing narcotics and booked him into the SCORE Jail in Des Moines, said Auburn police Cmdr. Mike Hirman. Alvarado, who had given officers a fake name, was identified at the jail by his fingerprints, Hirman said.

Two days later, as Alvarado was about to be released, Auburn police detectives arrested him on investigation of homicide and booked him into the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, where he is being held without bail, according to Hirman and jail records. He was charged by King County prosecutors last week.

Advertising

“On this occasion, the defendant shot and killed a man and pistol whipped another simply because they didn’t have money to surrender to him or were not (surrendering) it fast enough,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Berliner wrote in charging documents. “The surviving victim told detectives that the defendant seemed unfazed by the shooting of the victim at close range. The utter senselessness of this murder and assault belies the extreme danger the defendant presents to the community.”

According to the charges:

Just after 9:30 p.m. on March 31, a 53-year-old man called 911 and reported that a man he didn’t know had entered his auto-repair shop in the 3500 block of C Street Northeast and demanded money, then shot his co-worker and pistol whipped the caller.

The man told officers he and Deckman were cleaning up for the night when the suspect barged in. When Deckman told the man he didn’t have any money, the suspect shot him at close range in the chest, causing Deckman to fall back into an office. The suspect then demanded money from the 53-year-old, who was reaching for his wallet when he was struck in the back of the head with a handgun, according to the charges. The suspect then ran off and got into the passenger seat of a pickup.

Deckman died at the scene. His co-worker was taken to a hospital and underwent surgery for a fractured skull and bleeding in his brain. Doctors removed 25 bone fragments from his head.

Detectives obtained video-surveillance footage from nearby businesses and traffic cameras, which allowed them to identify the occupants of the pickup, the charges say. They also identified a witness, who provided information about the fatal shooting that was corroborated by the video footage. A tip called in to CrimeStoppers also identified Alvarado as the shooter, and he matched the description of the suspect seen in the footage, say the charges.

The charges indicate Alvarado is homeless and has a distinct tattoo on his forehead.

Alvarado’s release from prison in mid-March was a month before state officials announced the names of about 1,100 inmates who would be released to limit the potential spread of coronavirus behind prison walls. Those releases are intended for incarcerated people who are not serving time for violent or sex offenses, and who are nearing the end of their sentences, according to the Washington State Department of Corrections.