Alleged killer walks into court
David Gallegos kept the night he allegedly killed someone a secret for two years.
He didn’t tell anyone about the bad high he experienced sitting in the bushes at Seeley Lake Park in Lakewood. He didn’t talk about his paranoia or the man in the blue truck he was convinced was following him.
He never let on about the big knife police later said he used on the man, or that it was seized by officers two weeks after the murder when he was stopped on the street.
Until earlier this month.
That’s when Gallegos, 30, confided in a friend about “something he had never told anyone,” court records show.
He told his story about what happened Aug. 27, 2015, when the voices in his head became too much.
Gallegos said, “the driver had no chance,” according to court documents.
The driver was Daniel Guerin, 36. He was found later that night next to his 2003 Chevrolet pickup, dead from multiple stab wounds.
Police had no idea who killed him, or why. Detectives believe he had planned to sleep at the park in his truck, which he was known to do.
They had a passerby who stumbled across the body but hadn’t seen anything. They had poor surveillance video that showed a pedestrian walk into the park six minutes before Guerin drove in his truck. The video didn’t capture the pedestrian leaving or what happened by Guerin’s truck.
And so the case went cold.
Vicky Jordan, Guerin’s mother, pleaded for help from the public.
The last time the family heard of a break in the case was in September, about the time they were commemorating the anniversary of her son’s death, she told The News Tribune on Thursday.
On Wednesday, police had news for the family: a suspect was in custody.
“It was gut wrenching,” said Guerin’s sister, Shannon.
The first time the family saw Gallegos was in court Thursday. Confronted with the man she believes was the last person her son ever saw, Jordan said she felt mostly anger toward his alleged killer.
“It’s this unique, vibrant piece of our family that’s just gone senselessly,” said another of Guerin’s sisters, Jennifer.
Jordan described her son as suffering from physical and mental health problems, but said he had worked in construction for eight years and loved riding dirt bikes.
“He was a sweet, sweet soul,” she said.
Earlier this month, one of Gallegos’ friends told police he had confessed to the homicide and said it happened while he was on drugs.
“He explained that he was sitting in some bushes on a bad high when he saw a car pull into the lot,” Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jesse Williams wrote in charging papers. “He was hearing voices in his head and thought the driver was following him, so he ran up on the driver and began stabbing him.”
Gallegos said he then ran out of the park down a path rather than the main entrance.
Although the friend struggled with turning Gallegos in, the friend described Gallegos as “violent, unpredictable and capable of committing such an offense.”
Police began investigating Gallegos and determined that at one point he was staying at a mental health facility about 150 yards from where Guerin was killed.
It is not a lockdown facility and Gallegos would have had the freedom to come and go.
Investigators also found Gallegos was stopped in the area by police 16 days after the slaying and had a large kitchen knife on him. The officer who spoke with Gallegos that day took the weapon and it later was destroyed.
Eventually, Gallegos’ friend agreed to wear a wiretap and get Gallegos talking about the night he allegedly killed Guerin.
Police arrested him Wednesday and prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon and bail was set at $1 million.
Learning how Gallegos had been apprehended, Jordan told The News Tribune she is grateful for the friend’s courage in coming forward.
It helped give the family “some sense of peace,” she said.
Staff writer Jared Brown contributed to this report.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653