EVERETT — There isn’t any debate over the fact that 21-year-old Dustyn Hunt-Bagby was shot and killed in Everett on Feb. 25 by the father of a woman he had been dating.
The question is why.
According to Lauryn, the woman Hunt-Bagby was with, her father was angry after discovering that she tried to sneak Hunt-Bagby into her room for the night. She said her father pointed a gun at Hunt-Bagby, who pushed it to the side and told her father not to point it at Lauryn as the couple tried to pass by to get to the door. Her father fell back onto her bed, holding Hunt-Bagby’s arm.
“That’s when he shot him,” Lauryn, 20, said in an interview with The Seattle Times. “I don’t know why he shot him.”
Hunt-Bagby, who grew up in Kingston and was recently living in Seattle and focusing on a music career, was declared dead when medics arrived at the house in the Silver Lake neighborhood. He died of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Lauryn’s father did not respond to attempts to contact him and The Seattle Times was not able to reach his attorney, who was quoted by KING 5 as saying the shooting was a case of self-defense. The Times is not identifying the man, or using his daughter’s last name, as he has not been charged.
Now, six months after the shooting, Hunt-Bagby’s family and friends are wondering why the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t made an arrest in the case.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Courtney O’Keefe said detectives determined Lauryn’s father shot Hunt-Bagby, who was not armed, but they are still investigating whether a crime occurred. They’re awaiting the results of forensic tests and expect to send the case to prosecutors for review by the end of the year, she said.
On Monday, dozens of Hunt-Bagby’s friends and family gathered in Everett for a protest, facing the sheriff’s office as they yelled, “Make the arrest!” They didn’t believe that the shooting could have been in self-defense, they said, as Hunt-Bagby was level-headed and wouldn’t have tried to fight an armed man.
“(Lauryn’s father) decided to bring a gun into a parenting situation,” said Sharley Reed-Schmitt, a friend of Hunt-Bagby’s family who helped organize the protest. “You felt physically threatened by the unarmed kid who you ordered to leave?”
Hunt-Bagby’s mother, Lisa Ledbetter, said the sheriff’s office didn’t tell her they expected to finish the investigation by the end of the year, nor did they explain what new evidence they believe the forensic testing could add to the case.
O’Keefe said Tuesday she didn’t have information from the lead detective about the forensics but that it’s not unusual for testing to take up to a year.
“We just want closure,” Ledbetter said. “I don’t know if an arrest is actually going to give us that, but it just kills me that (Lauryn’s father) is living a normal life and we’re all missing something.”
Lauryn and Hunt-Bagby knew each other for about a year but had only dated for a few weeks when he was shot.
“I wish I had had longer, and I can’t imagine those who knew him for so long and then this happening,” Lauryn said. “He wasn’t my boyfriend. I don’t know if it would have gotten to that point, but I didn’t get to find out.”
They had been spending time at her house, where she lived with her father and stepmother, she said. They were drinking wine and watching a Harry Potter movie when Lauryn said her father texted her that Hunt-Bagby needed to leave by 10:30 p.m. She said she hid Hunt-Bagby under her bed and walked out the door, so her dad would think they had left.
Lauryn waited outside and watched her bedroom light go on, then off, assuming her father checked her room. She figured she’d walk back in after a couple of minutes. Then Lauryn saw her bedroom light turn on again and heard yelling.
She ran to her room, where she said her dad was standing in front of the door with a gun pointed at Hunt-Bagby. Lauryn said her father typically keeps his gun locked elsewhere in the house.
Hunt-Bagby was standing in his boxers and a T-shirt with his hands up, she said. Lauryn said she jumped in front of the gun, telling her dad that he should be mad at her, not Hunt-Bagby.
Lauryn said Hunt-Bagby pulled his clothes on as her father shouted at him to leave. She said they were trying to do that, passing by her father through a narrow space leading to the door, when Hunt-Bagby pushed the gun to the side and told Lauryn’s father not to point it at her.
Lauryn said her father fell back onto the bed, pulling Hunt-Bagby down with him. She said Hunt-Bagby was trying to stand back up when her father shot him.
When deputies arrived, they handcuffed Lauryn, who said she was hysterical. The sheriff’s office said deputies had to secure the scene and allow first responders to tend to Hunt-Bagby. Lauryn’s father was detained for several hours but then released, according to the sheriff’s office.
“It upsets me so much that this is my own dad. But this is what happened and this is what I saw,” Lauryn said. “I just want there to be justice in whatever way that’s served. I want his family to know peace. I want everybody to know what happened.”
Once the sheriff’s office sends the investigation to the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office, prosecutors will make a decision about whether to bring criminal charges.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.