Federal Way shooter may have been angry about relationship

The News Tribune and The Seattle TimesApril 23, 2013 

A Federal Way man who fatally shot four people before being killed by police might have started the rampage out of anger at his girlfriend for breaking up with him, family and friends of the woman said Tuesday.

Dennis Clark III, 28, and Justine Baez, 25, were together for about four years and moved from an apartment complex in Kent to one in Federal Way. Their new home, Pinewood Village in the 33300 block of 18th Lane South, was the scene of Sunday night’s killings.

Baez’s friends and family identified her as the woman killed; a law enforcement source identified Clark to The Seattle Times as the gunman.

Police said the gunman fatally shot his girlfriend and three others before police shot him as he reached for a gun in the parking lot. He might have been trying to kill witnesses after shooting the woman, police have said.

As of Tuesday, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office had identified only one of the five people killed – 23-year-old Ceasar Valdovinos. The office ruled his death a homicide.

Two neighbors identified one of the victims, found shot dead in his apartment, as Roland Scobee, 62. Public records show a man of that name and age as having lived at the apartments.

As shots were fired, resident James Mack, 63, said he and a neighbor, identified by others as Scobee, opened their doors to see what was happening.

Mack said the neighbor ran up a small flight of stairs to look out into the parking lot, then ran back and told Mack to call 911. Both men went back into their apartments, Mack said.

“I saw him go into his apartment and we both closed our doors,” Mack said. “Next thing I know, I hear more gunshots. I looked through my peephole and saw a man I didn’t recognize leaving his (Scobee’s) apartment.”

Mack said he believes the gunman might have tried to kill him as well.

There were 15 bullet holes on the walls outside his apartment, though it wasn’t immediately clear whether they came from the gunman or police.

Clark’s grandmother, Lillie Johnson, 73, of Renton, said she had never known him to fight with anyone.

“He was no violent person,” she said. “He got along with everybody. He wasn’t violent at all.”

Johnson said she last spoke to her grandson three weeks to a month ago, and that she had not talked to Clark’s mother since Christmas.

His father, she said, left when Clark was a baby.

Her grandson grew up in Seattle and called her regularly, she said.

“He was always happy calling me, telling me he loved me,” Johnson said.

He made a point of saying he was trying to stay out of trouble and telling her how he was doing in school, she said.

“Laughing and talking, and just make your day,” Johnson added.

On Tuesday, a memorial for the dead was propped against a chain link fence outside the apartment complex. Amid candles and flowers was a board with messages written for the victims.

One was addressed to “Roland,” who neighbors said was a disabled veteran who walked with a cane outside and enjoyed feeding the pigeons. The message remembered him as a man “with nothing but knowledge and wisdom.”

Another assured him:  “The birds will always be with you.”

News Tribune staff writers Stacia Glenn and Alexis Krell contributed to this report.

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