Police take man into custody in connection to Tillicum shooting

UPDATE as of 9:10 p.m. Lakewood police said the soldier was taken into custody at a house in the 15200 block of Fern Street Southwest in Tillicum. He went to a house there, told the residents who he didn’t know that he was wanted by police, and they called 911, police spokesman Chris Lawler said.

The soldier was cooperative, and is being interviewed by police, Lawler said.

Police also said they found the weapon.

INITIAL POST: A man in a truck was shot several times Thursday in a Tillicum neighborhood before driving to a nearby fast-food restaurant, where people saw him and called for help.

He was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma in critical condition, underwent surgery later Thursday, and was expected to survive.

Investigators said a 22-year-old active duty soldier was a person of interest in the shooting after they learned the shooter arrived in a white van with government plates.

The soldier was missing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and police had not been able to find him as of Thursday evening.

He had checked out the U.S. Army van, which later was left at the shooting scene, and taken a personal firearm with him, police said.

The News Tribune generally doe not name suspects unless a warrant has been issued for their arrest.

The shooting suspect was described as a white man in his 20s with short hair, a description that matches the missing soldier, police said. The gunman was wearing a dark, hooded sweatshirt and blue shorts.

A motive wasn’t clear for the shooting, which happened about 10:10 a.m. in the 15100 block of Grant Avenue Southwest.

The victim drove to a fast-food restaurant in the 15200 block of Union Avenue Southwest, where passers-by called 911 when they saw his truck’s shattered windows, three bullet holes and the man’s injuries.

As the gunman fled, he tried and failed to steal two cars at gunpoint, and at some point shed some clothing, and possibly was left wearing only his shorts, police said.

Lakewood police, along with several neighboring agencies and a SWAT team, a K-9 teams and air and marine units, searched for the gunman for about five hours, covering more than five square blocks.

The active search was called off about 3:30 p.m.

Tillicum Elementary School, which is a half-mile from the shooting scene, was placed on lockdown while officers scoured the streets.

Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro said the gunman might have tried to break into homes after the shooting looking for a place to hide. Officers went door to door talking to residents and checking yards and sheds.

Police sent a phone message to nearby residents about the shooting, and asked neighbors to look for signs of break-ins at their homes, and to call 911 if they found any.

Staff writer Alexis Krell contributed to this report.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653