Crime

Tacoma man holds driver at gunpoint after 7-year-old boy hit by car

The man who hit a 7-year-old boy who was trick-or-treating in Tacoma’s North Slope neighborhood was charged Tuesday in Pierce County Superior Court with vehicular assault.

Kasey Ryan Gunnarson, 38, was arrested Monday night after a trio of neighbors kept him from fleeing the scene after he hit the boy who was out for Halloween near the intersection of North Ninth and North I streets.

The boy was crossing the street holding his father’s hand when he was hit by the Toyota 4Runner driven by Gunnarson, charging documents said. The father was brushed by the car, but not injured, according to Tacoma Police spokeswoman Loretta Cool.

The boy was taken to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in critical condition with a fractured skull, missing teeth and bruises “from head to toe,” according to charging documents.

He remained in critical condition Tuesday, according to hospital spokeswoman Marce Edwards.

According to court documents:

Gunnarson told officers he got off work and had been drinking before heading home. He also said he had smoked marijuana.

An officer noted his speech was slurred and he had difficulty talking, but didn’t know if it was from impairment or being distraught over hitting the child.

The man told officers he was on his way home when the child ran out in front of his car.

Witnesses gave a different account.

A woman who was driving north on North I Street said she stopped her car at the road’s intersection with North Ninth Street to let a group of people cross. As the group of people reached the middle of the street, the woman said she saw a car coming south on North I Street.

Then she saw the car hit the child. The car continued a bit before stopping.

Officers arrested Gunnarson, who was taken to the hospital for a blood draw for toxicology analysis.

Danielle and Michael Lester had just crossed the street with their two children and nephew when they saw Gunnarson’s car heading their direction.

“I actually saw the little boy fly through the air. It sounded like somebody hit a garbage can,” Danielle Lester said by phone Tuesday.

Danielle Lester ran over and stood in front of the car to keep Gunnarson from leaving.

“He was revving his engine and bumping against me,” Danielle Lester said.

As she told the Gunnarson “No, I’m not going anywhere,” Michael Lester saw what was happening and ran over to help. At the same time another neighbor, Kenneth Hines came over to stop Gunnarson from running away.

“It took a second for him to stop revving his engine and then he tried to bail,” Danielle Lester said.

Hines told KING 5 News in an interview he heard a screech then saw “candy going all over the place” before hearing another screech and a woman screaming.

“I knew something had to be wrong,” Hines told the Seattle television station.

Hines, who was carrying a gun, used it to keep Gunnarson from running.

“I basically did a citizen’s arrest,” he told KING.

Danielle Lester doesn’t second-guess her decision to jump in front of the stopped car.

“He can’t get away after hitting a kid,” Michael Lester said.

Brynn Grimley: 253-597-8467, @bgrimley

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