Suspect in Tacoma gang initiation killing arrested

A suspect in a 2016 Tacoma gang initiation killing was booked into Pierce County Jail on Tuesday afternoon.

Juan Jose Gaitan Vasquez, 26, was charged in March with one count of first-degree murder in the April 28, 2016, death of Samuel Cruces-Vazquez.

Cesar Chicas Carballo, 30, and Jose Ayala Reyes, 25, have already been arraigned in their cases and pleaded not guilty.

According to charging documents:

Cruces-Vazquez, 25, left the Southcenter Mall restaurant in Tukwila where he worked and told a friend he was going to get drinks.

An hour later, he was found run over with a stab wound outside his car in the 7800 block of South Trafton Street in Tacoma. He later died at Tacoma General Hospital.

A knife was found outside the car, a disposable glove inside it and one of Ayala’s shoes stuck between the passenger door and the vehicle frame.

Surveillance video from a nearby business showed Cruces-Vazquez getting stabbed by someone outside the vehicle.

Gaitan was in the back seat and stabbed him in the neck and the back of the head, which prompted Cruces-Vazquez to accelerate, pinning Ayala’s leg between the car and a parked vehicle.

Cellphone records show Ayala was in the area during the stabbing. He told police he only stabbed Cruces-Vazquez in the leg as part of a gang initiation.

Ayala had receipts in his home showing he sent money to Chicas, and a witness told police two people came to Ayala’s homes to give out disposable gloves and plot Cruces-Vazquez’s death.

Kenny Ocker: 253-597-8627, @KennyOcker