Jury decides fate of military veteran on trial for murder in heroin-related shooting

A military veteran was not acting in lawful self-defense when he fatally shot someone who was selling him heroin two years ago in Tacoma, a Pierce County jury decided Monday.

Jurors convicted 40-year-old Donald Bango of second-degree murder, criminal impersonation and tampering with a witness.

Prosecutors argued at trial that Bango killed 33-year-old Jeffrey Shaw while trying to rob him. Bango argued he saw Shaw pick up a gun and feared for his life when he opened fire during a drug deal in the city’s West End.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 28.

Bango also was charged with first-degree murder for Shaw’s death, but the jury acquitted him of that crime.

The two men met Dec. 13, 2015 at a convenience store in the 3700 block of North Pearl Street, where Shaw was supposed to sell Bango drugs. Bango, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, reportedly began buying heroin after he ran out of opiates he took for combat injuries.

Bango asked Shaw to weigh the product, and as he turned to do so, Bango flashed a badge he still carried from his time as a juvenile corrections officer.

Shaw tried to drive away, and Bango fired as the vehicle took off.

He hit Shaw in the lungs and heart, and the younger man died from the injuries just after arriving at a local hospital.

Bango argued at trial that he acted in self-defense and cited his military training.

But prosecutors said Bango had the choice to walk away when things went south during the deal with Shaw.

The Superior Court jury began hearing testimony May 30 and started its deliberations Friday.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell