Kent police say a man suspected of a deadly carjacking earlier this week shot the victim after he tried to stop the theft by grabbing onto the truck bed.
A judge Thursday found probable cause to hold Gurkeerat Singh Kainth on investigation of second-degree murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and theft of a motor vehicle, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office. The judge set bail at $1 million. Kainth, 23, is scheduled to appear in court Friday.
The probable-cause statement, which outlines the police case against the suspect, offered the following account:
Around 8 p.m. Monday, Kainth and another man walked in front of East Hill Self Storage in Kent, where Jered Sperling’s truck was parked and running in front of the gate. Sperling, who managed the storage business, was speaking to customers a few feet away.
Kainth got into the pickup through an open door and began to back up. When Sperling saw this, he grabbed onto the side of the truck bed as Kainth drove off at “excessive speeds.”
Sperling’s wife reported the theft and kidnapping to police, who were not able to find Sperling or the pickup. Police obtained surveillance footage from the area that showed the carjacking. Detectives released photos of the suspect and his companion and said multiple people contacted them to identify the men.
At around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, police received a report that an unresponsive male was covered in blood in the back of the pickup that was reported stolen. Police found the truck in the parking lot at Cascade Apartments, which was about 2 1/2 miles from the storage facility. Sperling’s body was found in the bed.
Police contacted the man who had been walking with Kainth, who told them he witnessed Kainth steal the truck and drive recklessly, likely in an effort to throw Sperling off, according to the statement.
Police arrested Kainth Tuesday night.
Police say Kainth told detectives he had been high at the time of the shooting, according to the statement. Police say Kainth also told them he found a gun in the center console of Sperling’s pickup and shot him before leaving the truck at Cascade Apartments, according to the statement.
However, detectives say that after further investigation, they now believe Kainth already had a stolen firearm, which he likely used to kill the victim.
Kainth has been convicted of possession of a stolen vehicle twice in King County, once in 2016 and again in 2017, according to court documents.
He has been under state Department of Corrections supervision since September 2017, according to a department spokeswoman.
Kainth was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle in King County again in December. A bench warrant was issued against him in March after he failed to report to community corrections, which was a condition of his release, according to court records.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to show police believe the victim was killed with a stolen firearm. The suspect had earlier claimed he found the gun in the center console of the pickup, according to an affidavit of probable cause.