Murder and assault charges filed Wednesday against two suspects accused of instigating a gunfight in downtown Seattle last month indicate a chance encounter with a rival gang member led Marquise Tolbert and William Toliver to unleash a barrage of bullets on innocent bystanders after their intended target already had rounded the corner and fled the scene.
King County prosecutors charged Tolbert and Toliver, both 24, each with one count of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Tanya Jackson, 50, and six counts of first-degree assault in the Jan. 22 mass shooting at the corner of Third Avenue and Pine Street. They were arrested Saturday leaving a Las Vegas hotel by U.S. Marshals and members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and appeared in court there Tuesday, where both waived extradition to Washington.
It is unclear when exactly they will be transported back to King County, but both are scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 19, according to prosecutors.
Tolbert, Toliver and the man they targeted, 21-year-old Jamel Jackson, are all felons who are not legally allowed to possess firearms. Although Jackson is accused of returning fire with a 9 mm handgun, the charges say he did not hit any of the victims injured in the shootout. Tolbert and Jackson are each charged with first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm while Toliver is charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
In the charges filed Wednesday, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Mary Barbosa indicated the state will ask that Tolbert and Toliver be held without bail.
“In the present case, the defendants instigated a shootout with a rival gang member on a crowded street corner in downtown Seattle at the beginning of the evening commute. Both defendants fired a combined total of at least 20 rounds with no regard for the dozens of innocent people all around them,” Barbosa wrote in the charges.
“The defendants’ actions terrified the many people who saw and heard this crime as it unfolded and have caused tremendous alarm to the downtown Seattle community. Their willingness to commit such a violent crime in this public setting shows they are a substantial danger to the community,” Barbosa wrote.
The charges say the men involved in the shooting are members of rival gangs: Jackson is a member of the Deuce 8s, a Seattle street gang, while Tolbert and Toliver are members of the Hoovers.
Seattle Police Department Gang Unit detectives recognized all three men from video-surveillance footage of the shooting scene, and they used additional video from the Las Vegas hotel to build their case, the charges say. Tolbert’s girlfriend drove Tolbert and Toliver from Seattle to Las Vegas on Jan. 25, and during a later search of her car, police found a receipt from a South King County gun shop, according to the charges. The receipt coupled with video footage from the gun shop showed that Tolbert purchased an extended magazine for a .380-caliber handgun 4 1/2 hours before the shooting, the charges say.
The charges note the 12-round magazine holds twice the ammunition of a stock magazine.
According to the charges:
At 5 p.m. on Jan. 22, Seattle police received numerous 911 calls about a shooting at Third and Pine. Video from the scene showed Tolbert and Toliver exchanging words with Jackson outside a McDonald’s restaurant, before Toliver pulled out a gun and fired a shot at Jackson, who is seen reacting to being shot and returned fire.
The footage then showed Tolbert fire at Jackson, who turned and ran east on Pine Street. Based on the video, Tolbert and Toliver — who had arrived at the intersection together a few minutes before the shooting — turned and ran south on Third Avenue while “shooting indiscriminately behind them as they run and continuing to shoot even after Jackson was out of sight on E. Pine Street,” the charges say.
Two buses were hit by multiple bullets, and one shot nearly struck a driver.
“An analysis of the video indicates Jamel Jackson’s shots did not injure or kill any of the victims. The video shows Toliver and Tolbert both shooting repeatedly behind them in a northbound direction as they ran southbound, striking the victims,” charging papers say.
Seven of the 8 people injured were hit by gunfire, while the other, inside the McDonald’s, was injured by shattered glass.
Tanya Jackson, 50, who was standing on Third Avenue just south of the McDonald’s entrance, died at the scene from a single gunshot wound. A woman in a wheelchair who was next to Jackson was shot three times. (According to Harborview Medical Center, that woman remains in serious condition in the intensive- care unit). A man standing outside the Money Tree, south of the McDonald’s, was shot once, and a 9-year-old boy standing on the corner with his family was hit in the thigh. Two other men were both shot in the legs as they ran north on Third, across Pine Street, the charges say.
Jamel Jackson, the intended target, was shot in the thigh and was taken to Harborview, where he was arrested later that night. Police say Jackson admitted to firing a 9 mm handgun, but he said he got rid of the weapon before he was contacted by first-responders at the scene. He denied he owned a backpack found near him, although video-surveillance footage showed him wearing it. Inside the bag, police later found a handgun magazine and loose 9 mm bullets.
After he was treated for his gunshot wound, Jackson was booked into jail and is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail, court and jail records show.
During the investigation, police learned Tolbert and Toliver left Federal Way two hours before the shooting.
Following their arrests, two Seattle detectives interviewed Tolbert and Toliver in the Las Vegas jail on Saturday.
According to police, Tolbert “expressed that he was upset that his picture and criminal history had been made public on the news,” and repeatedly denied involvement, telling the detectives, “I wasn’t there.” Police say he claimed the suspect must have been someone who looks like him, the charges say. Police say Toliver declined to speak with detectives, according to the charges.