JBLM soldier stabbed to death in Lakewood confrontation
The Seattle Times
A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier was stabbed to death Saturday in what may have been a hate crime, Lakewood police reported.
But with five suspects still unidentified, the only firsthand accounts of the early morning killing came from two friends of the 20-year-old man who died in a parking lot in Lakewood, Pierce County.
“It looks like it could be racially motivated or a hate crime,” police Lt. Chris Lawler said.
Three active-duty soldiers were walking along the 12500 block of Pacific Highway Southwest when someone in a car yelled something about the soldiers being white, the two surviving soldiers told police.
According to their account:
When one of the soldiers yelled back a comment about treating combat soldiers with disrespect, the car turned around and stopped next to them in a parking lot in the largely industrial area.
Five men climbed out of the car, and surrounded the soldiers as the verbal confrontation continued.
When the driver determined the men really were combat veterans, he summoned his passengers back to the car. As they were returning to the car, one them appeared to bump a soldier, who fell to the ground as the car sped away.
“It was then that they discovered the victim had been stabbed and was bleeding profusely. The victim died at the scene,” Lawler wrote in a news release.
Police and emergency medical crews were called about 2:38 a.m. to the parking lot where the victim fell.
Police have not identified the soldier who died.
Lawler said detectives had received no information to cast doubt on what the witnesses told them, and they were studying video images from local businesses and asking anyone with information about the incident to come forward.
“If what they’re telling us is true,” Lawler said of the surviving friends, “these soldiers could have been targeted because they’re soldiers or because they’re white.”
The suspects’ vehicle was described as a midnight blue sedan similar to a BMW or Volkswagen Jetta, with tinted windows, stock rims and low-profile tires.
Descriptions were provided of four of the suspects, all reportedly black men believed to be in their early to mid-20s.
The primary suspect was described as 6-foot-1, medium build, wearing a blue zip-up hoodie. The driver was described as 5-foot-7, with short cropped hair and wearing a shirt with horizontal blue and white stripes.
Two others were about 5-foot-7, one with short hair and a gray tank top, the other with camouflage pants possibly designed for paintball. There was no description of the fifth suspect.
Police ask anyone with information about the incident, the suspects or the vehicle to call 253-798-4721.