King County prosecutors say a 21-year-old man, whose girlfriend was in the process of breaking off their months-long relationship, tried to light her tent on fire beneath a freeway overpass in Seattle’s Chinatown International District on Friday night.
That’s when another resident of the homeless encampment, 39-year-old Daniel “White Cowboy” Long, intervened on the woman’s behalf — and was fatally shot by her boyfriend as Long crouched behind a car in the 800 block of South King Street, according to prosecutors.
Donyae Pigott, who was known as “Dantay” to encampment residents, was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, court records show. He was arrested early Sunday in the 800 block of South Maynard Street, less than a half-mile from where Long was killed, the charges say. Pigott remains jailed in lieu of $2 million bail.
“Here, the defendant was arguing with his girlfriend at a homeless encampment and tried to light her tent on fire. When the victim tried to intervene, the defendant pulled out a handgun and fired a round into the victim’s neck as the victim was crouching down, killing him,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor William Doyle wrote in charging papers. “The fact that the defendant did so in front of several bystanders underscores the callousness of his actions.”
Doyle noted in the charges that Pigott has “an extensive and alarming criminal history” and was convicted as a juvenile on robbery, burglary and theft of a motor vehicle charges. As an adult, he pleaded guilty to criminal trespass, malicious mischief and theft after he was initially charged in 2017 with residential burglary for smashing through a sliding-glass door into a woman’s home. The victim was so terrified, she fled out a window with her 2-year-old child in her arms, Doyle wrote. Also in 2017, he was arrested for punching a homeless man in the face in Federal Way, rifling through the man’s pockets and stealing his bicycle, according to court records.
Since January, Pigott has been wanted on a $50,000 bench warrant issued by a Snohomish County Superior Court judge for failing to appear in court, court records show. In that case, Pigott was charged in May with second-degree robbery, accused of swarming an employee of a Lake Stevens cellphone store with three accomplices, raiding the storeroom and making off with armloads of iPhones, the charges say.
According to the murder charge filed Wednesday:
Pigott and his girlfriend dated for several months and shared a tent at the encampment near Eighth Avenue South and South King Street. She had been trying to end the relationship and the two had been arguing for days. Just before 9 p.m. Friday, the couple were again arguing and Pigott refused to leave the area where the woman’s tent was pitched, then attempted to set the tent on fire.
Long intervened and exchanged words with Pigott. Based on witness accounts to police, Pigott was armed with a handgun and shot Long as Long attempted to take cover behind a parked car, the charges say. Long, who died at the scene, was unarmed.
An autopsy revealed that Long was shot in the right upper chest and the bullet traveled through his lungs, struck his aorta and lodged in his lower back, a trajectory consistent with him ducking or crouching down when he was shot, according to charging papers.
Pigott’s girlfriend provided a photo of Pigott to police and the photo showed he has a distinct “8” tattooed under his left eye. Several other witnesses also identified Pigott as the shooter, say the charges.
Around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, police spotted Pigott in the 800 block of South Maynard Street and arrested him after a short foot pursuit. The handgun used in Long’s killing was not located, but the charges say Pigott had a stun gun and drugs in his possession when he was taken into custody.