Man wanted in fatal shooting at Tacoma bus stop tried to kill himself as police closed in

Argument at Tacoma bus stop turns deadly

A shooting at a bus stop near the Tacoma Dome early Wednesday left one man dead and another wounded.
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A shooting at a bus stop near the Tacoma Dome early Wednesday left one man dead and another wounded.

A man suspected of fatally shooting a stranger at a bus stop near the Tacoma Dome was hospitalized after shooting himself in the head as police closed in.

Stephen Milner, 23, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder for the April 23 slaying of James Mureness, 43.

Another man was also injured in the shooting.

Milner remains in the hospital but a warrant was issued for his arrest since his condition is improving and he could be released soon.

Charging papers give this account:

Police were called to Milner’s house April 23 after his relatives called 911 to report that he’d fired several rounds into the ceiling.

By the time officers arrived on scene, he’d left the home with a .22 pistol.

Hours later, police were called to a Pierce Transit bus stop in the 2900 block of East D Street and found Mureness dead from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Another man suffered a head wound when a bullet grazed him.

The surviving victim told detectives he and Mureness had been sitting at the bus stop when a man in a hooded sweatshirt walked past them. The man didn’t speak.

“After the man walked past them, he turned around and fired a shot,” records say.

Milner later told police he shot the men because one of them allegedly pulled a knife out of a jacket. He said he shot the other man out of fear he was also armed.

There were other reports of Milner carrying a gun and behaving strangely that night.

Several people at a bar on Eleventh Street called 911 to report a man carrying a pistol and looking at them.

A group of friends said they met Milner downtown but he ran from them. (Milner later told police his friends tried to rob him.)

Someone called 911 to report Milner walked into their house and asked for a glass of water. Milner said he went into the home on his way to see his girlfriend, who lived a block away.

Officers found Milner walking in Tacoma the night of the shooting and tried to speak with him, but he fled on foot.

As police got close, he allegedly shot himself in the forehead.

From his hospital bed, Milner said he decided to shoot himself after seeing a man “coming at him with an AR 15 rifle,” believing the man to be with the Mafia.

Stacia Glenn covers crime and breaking news in Pierce County. She started with The News Tribune in 2010. Before that, she spent six years writing about crime in Southern California for another newspaper.