Crime

Teens gathered for an old-fashioned schoolyard fight. Instead, two students were shot

Graham-Kapowsin High School shooting suspects appear in court

Two suspects in the shooting of two students near Graham-Kapowsin High School made a court appearance in Remann Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
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Two suspects in the shooting of two students near Graham-Kapowsin High School made a court appearance in Remann Hall on Wednesday afternoon.

It was supposed to be a fistfight.

Some teenagers arranged to meet Tuesday in a secluded wooded area on Eustis Hunt Road East, about 20 yards behind Graham-Kapowsin High School, and duke it out.

A crowd gathered by 2:30 p.m., but the fight never started. At least three teens hopped into a green Chevrolet Impala and started to drive away.

“As they drove off, they fired into the crowd,” Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

Two boys — a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old — were wounded.

Hours later, two 17-year-old suspects were taken into custody. They were in court Wednesday, and investigators were trying to identify a third, who they believe to be the shooter.

Court records gave this account of what happened:

The girlfriend of the one of the suspects had an altercation with another girl Monday in the high school cafeteria, and another student told the suspect to control his girlfriend.

The next day, matters between the suspect and the other student escalated to the showdown near the school at 22100 108th Ave. E.

There, the student who made the comment said he had no beef with the suspect, adding the suspect was too big for him to fight.

That’s when the suspects got into the Impala and drove off, the front seat passenger firing toward the student who refused to fight.

He was not hit but the other two boys were. At least one of them was not believed involved in the fight, and was there just to watch.

After being shot, the teens made it back to campus. One was found in the parking lot by the football field, the other in the school’s locker room.

They were taken to a hospital and underwent surgery.

One parent posted on Facebook that their son was shot four times. According to court records, the wounds were to his abdomen. The other teen was shot in the leg.

By 11 p.m. Tuesday, detectives had arrested one of the suspects. They released photos of two more teens wanted in connection with the shooting and the alleged getaway car.

Within an hour, more than 240 people retweeted the photos.

Early Wednesday, a Tacoma police officer spotted the Impala parked near a home. The second suspect, believed to be the driver, was taken into custody.

The suspects were uncooperative and declined to identify the third suspect, who was pictured wearing a dark jacket with a teal hood. Investigators believe he was the shooter.

One of the suspects was a student at Graham-Kapowsin High, Troyer said. Another was not and investigators don’t know what school the third attends.

The two arrested were booked into Remann Hall Juvenile Detention Center. On Wednesday, Court Commissioner Clint Johnson ordered them held until Friday, while prosecutors make a charging decision.

One suspect’s family asked that he be allowed to go home with electronic home monitoring. They said relatives would be there to supervise him if he were released.

“I want him to be home,” his mother said.

Johnson denied the request, saying he had to consider community safety and the potential effect of the boy’s release to the ongoing investigation.

Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Benton told the court the teens are suspected of first-degree assault and drive-by shooting. If so charged, they will be tried as adults and arraigned Monday.

At the high school Wednesday, counselors were on hand and extra security was provided.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the shooters to call Tacoma-Pierce County CrimeStoppers at 800-222-TIPS.

Troyer said other arrests might be coming because investigators are not sure how many people were in the Impala when shots were fired.

“There’s a lesson to be learned here,” he said. “If you’re going to go to a fight and shots are fired, those bullets are going to go until they hit something or someone. And if you’re a part of it, you can be held responsible.”

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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