Crime

17 charges, including murder, filed against Puyallup rampage suspect

Nathen Terault is wheeled into Pierce County Superior Court on Monday. He was arraigned on numerous charges for a shooting spree in Puyallup, including the death of Richard Johnson.
Nathen Terault is wheeled into Pierce County Superior Court on Monday. He was arraigned on numerous charges for a shooting spree in Puyallup, including the death of Richard Johnson. Staff photographer

Prosecutors on Monday filed 17 felony counts, including first-degree murder, against the man they believe went on a rampage last week in Puyallup, killing a 71-year-old resident and terrorizing dozens of others.

Nathen Terault pleaded not guilty in Piece County Superior Court. Judge Katherine Stolz ordered him jailed in lieu of $5 million bail.

In addition to the murder count, Terault, 34, is charged with first-degree robbery, 12 counts of first-degree assault and one count each of second-degree assault, attempting to elude police and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Most of the charges include firearm sentencing enhancements, which could increase Terault’s sentence by decades if he’s convicted of those counts.

Monday’s arraignment was brief and perfunctory.

Terault, who was shot by a Puyallup police detective and pinned under a police vehicle by another officer to end the rampage, was brought into court in a wheelchair.

He wore a special smock reserved for defendants thought to be a danger to themselves or others.

Terault remained mostly silent during the hearing, letting defense attorney Aaron Talney do the talking for him.

Deputy prosecutor Jared Ausserer requested the $5 million bail. In justifying the request, he cited Terault’s criminal history, which includes convictions for assault, and the nature of the shooting spree.

Talney did not argue against Ausserer’s request, reserving that fight for Terault’s permanently assigned defense attorney.

Stolz then ordered Terault to have no contact with any victims or witnesses in the case, and corrections officers wheeled him back to jail.

Investigators believe Terault shot Richard Johnson to death on the southwestern side of Puyallup last Tuesday afternoon after the older man found him rummaging in his truck.

“A neighbor looked out the window and observed the defendant walking from the area of Johnson’s vehicle towards Johnson as Johnson fled,” Ausserer wrote in a declaration for probable cause.

“The defendant raised a firearm and fired two shots at Johnson.”

The long-time Puyallup resident died at the scene.

Police and prosecutors said Terault then rampaged across town, firing at women, children, police and others. No one else was hit.

At one point, charging papers state, he pointed a gun in a woman’s face, demanded the keys to her SUV and then drove the vehicle through her closed garage door before leading police on a high-speed chase.

Police have not publicly released a motive, and charging papers give no inkling about what prompted Terault to allegedly perpetrate a crime that left Puyallup shocked and saddened.

Related stories from Tacoma News Tribune

  Comments