An argument over fireworks escalated into a shooting that left a 22-year-old man dead and injured three other people Monday night at Alki Beach in West Seattle, according to Seattle police.
A 19-year-old suspected gunman waived his appearance at his initial court hearing Wednesday afternoon, when a King County District Court judge found probable cause to hold him on investigation of homicide, said Casey McNerthney, a spokesperson for Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Criminal charges are expected to be filed early next week. The Seattle Times does not generally name suspects until charges have been filed.
Killed was Tilorae Shepherd, who was identified by his family members as the person who was fatally shot. According to a GoFundMe campaign started by his maternal aunt, Shepherd was the father of a young son and he and his girlfriend are expecting their second child.
“He was a good, hardworking man with children,” his mother, Tunisia Shepherd, said in a brief phone interview Wednesday. “I’m grieving the loss of my son.”
At 11:56 p.m. Monday, Seattle police responded to numerous 911 calls about a shooting in the area near Alki Avenue Southwest and 60th Avenue Southwest, where officers found a man lying partially in the street with several gunshot wounds, says the probable cause statement outlining the police case against the 19-year-old suspect, whose last known address is in Des Moines. Shepherd died at the scene.
One 911 caller said he witnessed a man firing a gun as the shooter left the scene with an injured man, who also appeared to have been shot, the statement says. Other callers reported the two men got into a gray BMW, driven by a woman, which police intercepted at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center at 12:13 a.m. Tuesday, according to the probable cause statement.
The 19-year-old man matched the shooter’s description provided by witnesses, and when Seattle police officers looked inside the BMW, they saw two, semi-automatic handguns on the rear floorboard where the suspect had been sitting, the statement says.
Another man and a woman suffered gunshot wounds to their legs, the statement says. That man told police he saw a gunman shoot the 22-year-old in the face during a dispute over fireworks and when he turned to run, he was shot in the leg, according to the statement. He was also able to identify the shooter in a police photo montage, it says.
Sgt. Randy Huserik, a police spokesperson, said detectives are still working to determine how many shooters were involved.
As of Tuesday, Huserik said Seattle police have responded to 233 shots-fired incidents so far this year, which includes shootings that resulted in death, injury and property damage as well as those that did not but were verified through witness accounts or the discovery of shell casings. Last year, police responded to 440 shots-fired incidents, he said.
Of the 21 homicides investigated by Seattle police so far this year, 16 victims were fatally shot, according to a Seattle Times database. Shepherd’s death is the 10th Seattle homicide in June alone.
CORRECTION: The suspected gunman’s initial court hearing was Wednesday. The victim’s mother, Tunisia Shepherd, was interviewed by phone Wednesday.