A man charged with fatally shooting a driver outside the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma admitted to FBI agents that he shot the man but claimed it was self-defense.
Jeremy Schlenker, 27, was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder. He remains detained in Oregon, where he was arrested, until the U.S. Marshal’s Office can move him to the Pierce County Jail.
Schlenker is accused of shooting Brandon Williams, a 26-year-old Puyallup man. Authorities said two did not know each other but got into an argument early Saturday in the casino parking lot.
Court documents gave this account:
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As Williams was trying to back his car out of a parking spot, Schlenker pulled behind him and blocked him. One of Williams’ three female passengers got out of the car and said something to Schlenker. Then Williams stepped out of the car.
After exchanging heated words, Schlenker pistol whipped Williams before shooting him twice. Williams died at the scene.
Schlenker then drove out of the parking lot with his 25-year-old girlfriend in the passenger seat.
The couple was arrested Sunday on southbound Interstate 5 near Salem, Oregon.
Authorities said a .40-caliber pistol was found in a sleeping bag in the car. Shell casings found in the casino parking lot were from a .40-caliber pistol.
Earlier in the evening, witnesses reported seeing Schlenker acting erratically in the casino parking lot.
An hour before Williams was shot, Schlenker’s girlfriend called 911 to report he’d pulled a gun on her in the parking lot after spotting her with a friend.
Casino security was told about an armed man and trained their surveillance cameras on him, documents show.
After confronting his girlfriend, Schlenker allegedly went to a corner of the parking lot and fired at least one round. An unarmed security officer saw him do it, but it wasn’t captured on surveillance footage.
The shooting was captured on tape, according to court documents.
A woman who said she was one of Williams’ friends in the car that night told KIRO-TV he was a hero who was shot trying to protect them.
“He literally saved us,” she said. “He got the guy so he could save us. He saved us by sacrificing himself. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t even be alive. He’s a hero.”
Friends have set up a GoFund me account to raise money for Williams’ funeral. By Tuesday, they’d raised nearly $2,000. To donate, visit bit.ly/1brb4A9.