A 49-year-old Seattle man was arrested late Thursday, accused of stealing the vehicle of an off-duty Seattle police officer earlier this week after she was struck by a car and killed while assisting people involved in a crash.
The man was arrested by the Washington State Patrol and Seattle Police Department SWAT team late Thursday evening in a hotel near the Eastgate area of Bellevue, the State Patrol said in an 11 p.m. news conference. He was taken into custody on investigation of felony hit-and-run, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen firearm and identity theft.
Officer Alexandra “Lexi” Harris died Sunday after being struck while helping people involved in a three-car collision in Seattle. The man arrested, according to the State Patrol, is the alleged driver of one of those three cars.
At least six other people were arrested over the past several days, though the State Patrol said they were unrelated to the theft of Harris’ vehicle. One of the six people arrested was also initially believed to have been the primary suspect of the investigation, but officials “quickly realized this individual, while a close associate of the suspect, was not involved in the theft,” according to State Patrol.
The State Patrol said it expects additional arrests as the investigation continues.
The man arrested Thursday has not been charged. The Seattle Times generally does not name suspects until charges have been filed.
His first court appearance is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, when a judge will determine if there’s probable cause to hold him.
Harris was driving home after a weekend shift when she came across the crash scene near South Forest Street and was killed after getting out of her car, according to Seattle police and the State Patrol, which is leading the investigation.
The three-car collision happened just after 1 a.m. Sunday in the HOV lane of southbound Interstate 5, where traffic had piled up from an earlier 10- to 13-car collision, police said Sunday. The earlier incident occurred around 11:43 p.m. Saturday on southbound I-5 near Spokane Street.
Harris had gotten out of her car to help when she was struck by the driver of a fourth vehicle, whom police have said is cooperating with investigators.
Harris died from multiple blunt-force injuries and her death was ruled an accident, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The man arrested Thursday had been involved in the crash, according to the State Patrol, and fled the scene in Harris’ private vehicle, which was later found abandoned in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.
Harris is survived by her parents, Laird Harris and Rebecca Brenneman; her brother Ben Harris; her life partner Jeremiah Neuman; and stepdaughters Berlyn and Aris Neuman, according to a statement issued earlier this week by her family.
Staff reporter Sara Jean Green contributed to this report.