Man killed in mom’s backyard. Son arrested, has history of assault

A 23-year-old Steilacoom man suspected of killing a man in his mother’s backyard Tuesday night has a history of assault, records show.

Police have released few details about the death, which was reported about 11:15 p.m. in the 600 block of Lafayette Street.

The victim was identified as Stephen Gale, 52.

The man suspected in his death has been taken into custody. Pierce County prosecutors are reviewing the case and are expected to file charges Thursday (July 6).

The News Tribune is not naming him because he has not been charged in the death.

It’s unclear how the men knew each other but police said it was a “domestic assault.”

“This appears to be an isolated incident,” Town Administrator Paul Loveless said Wednesday. “There does not appear to be any other public safety concerns related to this incident.”

Loveless declined to say what led up to Gale’s death or how he died.

Officers found Gale unconscious in the backyard and performed CPR until firefighters arrived and took over. Gale was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police learned a man fled the home before they arrived and put out a bulletin with information on the suspect and a vehicle to other Pierce County law enforcement agencies.

About 1 a.m., the man was taken into custody in Puyallup. He was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of second-degree manslaughter.

The suspect has at least one domestic violence incident involving his mother and father, though police have been called out to their homes more than once.

In 2014, the suspect’s mother called police after she argued with her son over a mental health appointment and he pushed her, according to charging papers.

“The defendant was not happy about the hospital visit that day,” the papers state.

He admitted to police that he shoved his mother when she tried to grab a computer mouse from his hand, but denied he used much force.

His mother told police she didn’t want her son in her house. He then called his father to see whether he could stay there. When he hung up his “attitude changed for the worse,” records state.

The man fought with two police officers and had to be tased to be taken into custody.

He pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault in November 2014 and was sentenced to 364 days in jail, which was suspended.

Although his mother initially requested a no-contact order, she petitioned the court in June 2014 to have it squashed.

“I am not fearful for my safety,” she wrote, adding that she wants to support her son as he struggled with “difficult problems.”

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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