Seventeen King County Superior Court jurors were told Thursday they’ll get a crash course on Seattle gang culture during the murder trial of a man accused in a deadly downtown gun battle that killed one bystander and injured six other people, including a rival gang member.

Marquise Tolbert and William Tolliver, both 26, are accused of spraying bullets in an exchange of gunfire along a half-block section of Third Avenue just south of Pine Street at the height of the evening rush hour on Jan. 22, 2020. They’re each charged with one count of first-degree murder and six counts of first-degree assault, with each count carrying a firearms enhancement.

The two men are co-defendants, but they’re being tried separately because an expert witness hired by Tolliver’s defense team isn’t currently available to testify, court records show.

“This was not a random act of violence — this was a targeted shooting,” and all but one of the victims were collateral damage, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Brandy Gevers told jurors Thursday during opening statements in Tolbert’s trial.

Gevers said Tolbert and Tolliver, longtime friends and members of the Hoover gang with sets or cliques in South and West Seattle, met up downtown to seek out Jamel Jackson of the rival Deuce 8s, a Central District gang, because Jackson had written a Facebook post two days earlier mocking a Low Profile gang member who was a friend of Tolbert’s.

Defense attorney Emily Gause countered that Tolbert and Tolliver went downtown for “fun and friendship” and were accosted by Jackson, who she said was the true instigator of the six-second gunfight that sent pedestrians running for cover. She said Seattle police detectives rushed to judgment, painting Jackson as the victim before reviewing all the video evidence or interviewing the case’s many witnesses.


“Marquise Tolbert was not the first to shoot, he wasn’t the second to shoot, and when he did so, it was only because he was trying to save his life,” said Gause, who contended her client fired 10 rounds from his .380-caliber handgun in self-defense.

Jurors were shown video clips of the mass shooting, photos from the crime scene and images of Tolbert and Tolliver flashing gang signs in Las Vegas, where they were arrested nine days after the gunfight. They were told they would watch the videos many times over the course of Tolbert’s trial before Judge Melinda Young, which is expected to wrap up in mid-September. Only 12 jurors will participate in deliberations, with the rest serving as alternates.

In her opening statement, Gevers showed jurors a photo of Tolbert purchasing an extended magazine at Rainier Arms, a gun shop in Auburn, four hours before the shooting.

The magazine doubled the capacity of Tolbert’s .380 handgun from six bullets to 12. At the time of the purchase, Tolbert was seen talking on the phone with Tolliver, Gevers said, adding that the two called each other repeatedly over the next two hours before they met up in downtown Seattle.

They arrived at Third Avenue and Pine Street a little after 4 p.m. Gunfire erupted less than an hour later.

Following his arrest in Las Vegas, Tolbert claimed to police that he hadn’t been at the scene and that it was a case of mistaken identity, Gevers said Thursday.


She said video evidence shows Tolbert and Tolliver were tipped off that Jackson was inside the McDonald’s, his regular haunt on the intersection’s southeast corner. The defense, however, said it was Jackson who was told his rivals were in the area.

Gevers, the prosecutor, said Tolliver was the first to pull his gun and fire at Jackson. But Gause said Jackson was the one who aggressively confronted Tolbert and Tolliver and brandished his gun before Tolliver “freaked out” and fired the first shot at Jackson.

Gevers said Jackson “got off five rounds” from his 9-mm handgun as he ran east on Pine, and that Tolbert and Tolliver, who ran south on Third, blindly fired .380 and .40 caliber handguns over their shoulders after Jackson was no longer in sight, indiscriminately shooting six people on the crowded sidewalk.

Gause, the defense attorney, said Tolbert only began firing after a couple of Jackson’s bullets whizzed by him, twice striking a Metro bus, with a third round ricocheting off the pavement.

Based on the shell casings found at the scene, Tolbert fired 10 rounds, Tolliver fired nine, and Jackson fired at least five times, according to the attorneys.

Tanya Jackson, 50, who is not related to Jamel Jackson, was seen on video crossing Third Avenue before collapsing outside the McDonald’s, where she died from a gunshot wound.


A woman using a wheelchair and who had a small dog in her lap was shot three times in the abdomen and nearly died, while a 9-year-old Bremerton boy on his way to the ferry terminal with his family after a daytrip to the Pacific Science Center suffered a fractured femur and collapsed near a lamppost, jurors were told.

A man on his way to a pickup basketball game and two Amazon employees on their way home from work also suffered nonfatal gunshot wounds.

The boy’s father and the other surviving gunshot victims, including Jamel Jackson, are among the witnesses expected to testify.