A 46-year-old woman was fatally shot Monday outside her car in South Hill with her 5-year-old daughter mere feet away, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
The victim was identified as Teresa Ryan. Detectives arrested a 19-year-old man who until recently had dated her 15-year-old daughter.
Investigators were called about 8:15 a.m. to the 12000 block of 142nd Street Court East and found Ryan suffering from three gunshot wounds. She died on the way to the hospital or shortly after arriving, sheriff’s spokesman Jerry Bates said.
Ryan was on her way home and stopped on the street in front of her house. She was shot during a confrontation with her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, Bates said.
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It’s unclear why the ex-boyfriend was at the house and whether he was waiting for the family to return.
Ryan’s 5-year-old daughter was in the back seat of the Ford Explorer at the time of the shooting but was not injured. She ran to a neighbor’s house for help after the shooting.
The family’s dog, which was in a fenced yard, was also shot dead. Investigators said it appears the dog was shot before Ryan and her daughter returned home.
Ryan’s husband was at work at the time, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Several neighbors reported three shots in quick succession early Monday morning.
“I looked at my wife and said ‘That’s not fireworks. That’s gunshots,’ ” neighborhood HOA president Jack Peters said.
Peters’ fellow neighbor, Gabe Colbern, was awakened by the shots and dashed outside to see a little girl run from the mother’s white SUV into a home across the street. Colbern said he ran back inside, grabbed his gun and tried to pursue the gunman so he could tell police where the man went.
The trail, tracked by a police search dog, turned up cold — the man had parked nearby and driven away. Tacoma police later arrested a suspect in the 200 block of East West Street.
The victim’s teenage daughter, who was at a sleepover at a friend’s house when the shooting occurred, had been trying to break off her relationship with the suspect, Bates said. Her parents had intervened to try to keep him away from her.
“Anyone else who was here would’ve been in danger,” Bates said.
Neighbors described a series of recent incidents at the home, including a burglary. Colbern said that after the burglary, the father of the family warned neighbors about break-ins and asked them to keep an eye out for the stolen items.
Most recently, the windows of the teenage daughter’s maroon SUV were smashed, Colbern said. Plastic sheeting still covered the rear window of the vehicle Monday.
The mother’s white SUV remained in the street, doors ajar, as law enforcement combed through the area for evidence. Bates said forensics would also search inside the home for evidence.
Peters, who has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years, said the sleepy enclave rarely sees such violence.
“This is very, very unusual, for the police to come for much of anything,” Peters said.
Bates said the ex-boyfriend may also have been involved in recent vandalism incidents at the Ryan home. He said there were no restraining orders in place by anyone living there.
However, a restraining order by a different family was served against a man with the same name as the suspected shooter in January 2012, accusing him of intimidating a teenage girlfriend after she broke up with him.
He forced the girl to slice her wrists to prove her love, hit her, threatened suicide after the breakup and asked what she’d do if he cut her throat, according to a temporary restraining order.
“By his actions now it isn’t hard to see it is escalating out of control,” the girl’s mother wrote in a request for the restraining order. “He has a pattern of returning to his ex’s to intimidate the girls.”
In the 2012 court paperwork, the girl’s mother alleged the suspect had access to multiple guns at his grandparents’ house.
A judge granted the order of protection but canceled it three months later when the girl and her family missed a court appearance to renew it.
On Monday, the suspect’s grandfather told KOMO his grandson was innocent and had been home all day.
“ He’s a good kid,” the grandfather said. “He’s had problems but he’s not that bad of a kid.”
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653