Des Moines police last week investigated what appears to be a crime of opportunity that turned deadly when the victim of a street robbery returned fire and fatally shot his alleged assailant, according to a police spokesperson.
Randle Cody Jr., 45, died Wednesday from multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The medical examiner classifies deaths as natural, accidental, homicide, suicide or undetermined. A determination of homicide means only that a person was responsible for another person’s death and does not necessarily indicate criminal culpability.
Around 4 p.m. Wednesday, several people called 911 after hearing gunshots in the 22900 block of 30th Avenue South, said Des Moines police Sgt. Dave Mohr.
He said the police investigation found that a 31-year-old Renton man had reported his car stolen on Jan. 18 and two days later, the vehicle was located by Des Moines police officers, said Mohr. The owner asked that the car not be impounded and he went to his vehicle’s location on his motorcycle to await a tow truck.
While the 31-year-old was waiting, an SUV pulled up, driven by a 30-year-old Kent man with a 45-year-old Tukwila man as a passenger, said Mohr. The 45-year-old got out of the SUV and struck up a conversation with the Renton man about his motorcycle, he said.
The 45-year-old then pulled a gun and demanded the younger man’s backpack, pocketing his weapon as the Renton man handed over the bag, said Mohr. The 31-year-old then pulled out his own gun and the 45-year-old grabbed his gun and fired once, missing the 31-year-old; the 31-year-old returned fire, striking the 45-year-old multiple times, according to Mohr.
The 45-year-old was treated at the scene but died soon after arriving at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, Mohr said.
The 31-year-old Renton man and the SUV’s driver were both interviewed by officers and Des Moines police have since sent their case to King County prosecutors to be reviewed. The Renton man was not arrested or booked into jail.
“To my knowledge, it’s just an odd coincidence,” Mohr said of the encounter, adding there’s no evidence the 45-year-old was involved in stealing the Renton man’s car. “The 31-year-old was just a victim of opportunity for the two in the SUV.”
Mohr said the 31-year-old was legally in possession of a handgun and had a valid concealed pistol license at the time of the fatal shooting.