A 19-year-old Seattle man wanted for escaping a youth group home this spring is now facing a murder charge for a fatal shooting in Kent and robbery charges for an armed holdup of mahjong players in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, prosecutors say.
Rogelle Harris was charged Friday with first-degree murder after Kent police identified him as the gunman who sprayed bullets early July 2 into a crowd outside the Central Avenue Pub, killing 28-year-old Bobby Rodgers III, charging papers say.
Harris, who was already in custody when he was charged with murder, was arrested by Seattle police at a Beacon Hill town house Aug. 16, the same day he and two others were charged with three counts of first-degree robbery, accused of robbing seven older adults at gunpoint three weeks earlier, court records show.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Aubony Burns successfully argued that Harris be held without bail on the murder charge, citing a state law that allows for a no-bail hold when a defendant is facing a possible life sentence and there’s compelling evidence that his or her propensity for violence creates a likely danger to the community.
Harris is scheduled to be arraigned on the murder charge Sept. 8. He pleaded not guilty Monday to the robbery charges.
Harris has a slew of juvenile convictions from 2020, including drive-by shooting, assault and unlawful possession of a firearm for shooting one person in the abdomen and participating in a separate gunfight in Seattle’s Holly Park, Burns noted in the murder case.
That November, he was transferred to the custody of Juvenile Rehabilitation, a branch of the state Department of Children, Youth & Families, and sent to Green Hill School in Chehalis, say the charges. He was later sent to Oakridge Community Facility, a youth group home in Tacoma, but escaped from custody April 11.
Harris had been on the run for four months before his Aug. 16 arrest, Burns wrote in charging documents in the murder case.
“Every pending felony charge or conviction related to the defendant involves a firearm and extreme violence,” she noted.
Five thousand friends and acquaintances were invited via social media to a joint birthday party at Kent’s Central Avenue Pub, where the fatal shooting occurred, according to the charges.
The crowd exceeded the pub’s 117-person capacity, and guests who couldn’t get inside socialized in the parking lot and along an adjacent road, the charges say. Several people called 911 to complain about noise and the crush of cars related to the party, and Kent police officers began gathering nearby in anticipation of the pub’s 2 a.m. closing time, the charges say.
Eight minutes before closing, an officer heard gunshots and saw a man hanging out of a Honda CR-V, firing into the crowd in the pub’s parking lot as the driver sped away, according to the charges. Two men armed with 9-mm handguns returned fire.
Kent police reviewed surveillance footage and determined someone had brandished a gun during a fight a few minutes earlier, causing pub patrons to scatter and duck for cover, including Rodgers, who was seen running for an emergency exit, the charges say. Police found Rodgers on the ground outside the pub’s front door and later learned a second man had been shot through the neck.
Police found seven .45-caliber shell casings at the scene, the same caliber of bullet that killed Rodgers.
A tipster contacted Kent police July 13 and identified Harris as the gunman in the Honda, which was found in Renton that night, according to charging papers. The SUV turned out to have been stolen, the charges say, and Harris’ fingerprints were later found inside.
Two weeks later, Seattle police responded to an armed robbery at “an obscure building” in the 600 block of South Weller Street, say charging papers in the robbery case against Harris and his co-defendants — Davien Vallieu, 19, of Seattle, and a 14-year-old boy.
After a patron was let inside, one of the males — presumably the 14-year-old — ran across the street and caught the door before it closed, the charges say. A fourth male, who has not been identified, stayed outside as a lookout while the others filed in.
“An interior camera showed the previously tranquil scene of at least fifteen elderly Asian men and women lounging and playing mahjong quickly turn to chaos as the three suspects who entered the location pointed guns at them and demanded their belongings,” a detective wrote in charging papers.
Police say one man was hit in the face with a gun and a man later identified as Harris grabbed a woman’s neck, held a gun to her head and shoved her onto a couch when she tried to run away, according to the charges. The robbers made off with jewelry, credit cards and thousands of dollars in cash.
The son of one robbery victim arrived at the scene and told police his father’s credit card had just been used at the Lowe’s store on Rainier Avenue South, less than 2½ miles away, the charges say.
Lowe’s surveillance footage led to the identification of Harris, Vallieu and the 14-year-old, according to the charges, which say Harris winked at a security camera after purchasing $600 worth of gift cards.