A 36-year-old Seattle man was sentenced to 45 years in prison Friday for a March 2019 drunken shooting rampage in Lake City that killed two people and injured two others, including a King County Metro bus driver, who was shot in the chest.
Tad-Michael Norman, 36, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, vehicular homicide and three counts of first-degree assault March 23, four days shy of the third anniversary of the March 27, 2019, random shooting that began in the middle of a busy intersection, court records show.
Around 4 p.m. that day, Deborah Judd, a second grade teacher, was driving home from work when she was shot twice near Sand Point Way Northeast and Bartlett Avenue Northeast. The gunman then fired through the windshield of a Metro bus, striking driver Eric Stark, who was hailed as a hero for backing the bus out of the area to safety, despite a serious gunshot wound to his chest. Judd and Stark survived their injuries.
The gunman then shot the driver of a Prius in the face, threw his body onto the ground, shot him again, and then stole his car as police were arriving. The Prius driver, Robert Hassan, was a 76-year-old retired physician and Air Force colonel driving home after playing pinochle with friends, according to his brother. He died of his injuries.
The gunman sped south on Sand Point Way, and a block and a half later collided head-on with another vehicle driven by Richard T. Lee, 75, a longtime Lake City resident who was pinned in his car and died of his injuries.
Police arrested Norman and found a 9-mm handgun inside the stolen Prius, according to court records.
The next day, Seattle police identified a fifth victim, who turned out to be the first driver the gunman shot at, say charging documents. She was able to swerve around the gunman, then watched in her rearview mirror as he shot at the car behind her, the charges say. She later noticed a bullet had struck her windshield and contacted police.
Norman was initially charged with two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder, each with a firearm enhancement, and he faced a standard range sentence of 110 to 138 years in prison, The Seattle Times reported at the time.
Following plea negotiations, the state and defense jointly recommended that Norman be sentenced to 45 years, which is the sentence King County Superior Court Judge Karen Donohue imposed, according to the records and Casey McNerthney, a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office.
Court records say Norman, who had no previous criminal history, struggled with alcoholism and relapsed on the day of the shootings after being sober for 90 days. He told police he had no memory of the rampage and before he was booked into jail, he was treated at Harborview Medical Center, where his blood alcohol content was measured at .287, more than three times the legal limit of .08 for adult drivers, the records say.
During his Friday sentencing hearing, Norman apologized to his victims and their family members for his actions, McNerthney said.
Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.