Investigators believe the fatal shooting of a Pierce County man Saturday might have stemmed from a fight with a former roommate about personal belongings.
Allen Vintora Maae and Scott Allen Wheeler, both 31, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges at an arraignment Monday.
They’re accused of killing 37-year-old Jason Emery, who the Medical Examiner’s Office said died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set bail at $2 million for each.
Maae, the alleged shooter, also was charged with unlawful gun possession.
At the time of the shooting, Maae had a bench warrant for his arrest, because he missed a court date about two weeks ago in an unrelated case. He’s accused of having methamphetamine in his vehicle when an officer pulled him over.
Charging papers and sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer give this account of Saturday’s shooting:
It happened about 5 a.m. at Emery’s house in the 4700 block of 64th Street East, not far from Canyon Road and Pioneer Way East in the unincorporated county.
Deputies who responded found Emery sitting against a wall. They tried to give him CPR, but he died at the scene.
Investigators think Maae, Wheeler, Maae’s girlfriend and another man showed up at the home in a stolen rental car. Maae and Wheeler forced their way into the house, and there was a confrontation with Emery. Maae shot him, and the group fled.
Detectives identified the four people in the car after speaking with witnesses and found each of them. They arrested Maae, Wheeler and the 24-year-old girlfriend, who was not charged Monday, pending further investigation.
The other man in the car told investigators Wheeler drove the group to the house and told him and Maae’s girlfriend to stay in the car. Then he heard gunshots. Maae and Wheeler returned, and the group took off.
A witness who fled after hearing gunfire said he heard Emery ask the intruders: “Are you going to shoot me in the stomach?”
It appeared Wheeler used to live at the 64th Street East home with Emery, Troyer said, and there had been a dispute about personal property recently. Witnesses said Emery thought Wheeler took things that belonged to him while he was in jail.
Emery was sentenced to several months behind bars in September, according to court records, after he pleaded guilty to drug and unlawful gun possession.