Crime

Prosecutors: JBLM soldier shot Tillicum man while trying to take his truck

Jesse Matthew Suhanec walks into a courtroom escorted by Pierce County sheriff personnel in Pierce County Superior Court Monday. Suhanec was charged charged with first- and second-degree assault, three counts of attempted first-degree robbery, and one count of attempted first-degree burglary.
Jesse Matthew Suhanec walks into a courtroom escorted by Pierce County sheriff personnel in Pierce County Superior Court Monday. Suhanec was charged charged with first- and second-degree assault, three counts of attempted first-degree robbery, and one count of attempted first-degree burglary. Staff photographer

A special operations soldier accused of shooting a man in Tillicum on Thursday was trying to take the man’s truck and apparently failed at other carjackings after the shooting, according to charging papers.

Pierce County prosecutors said Monday they believe the man who was shot is in critical condition, in a medically induced coma, and they were not sure of his prognosis.

Spc. Jesse Suhanec, 22, of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, is charged with first- and second-degree assault, three counts of attempted first-degree robbery and one count of attempted first-degree burglary.

Suhanec is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

He pleaded not guilty Monday, and Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set bail at $1 million. Court records did not list an attorney for Suhanec.

According to charging papers:

The 30-year-old victim was on his way to discuss a parenting plan with his ex-wife when she heard multiple gunshots near her house about 10:10 a.m.

The man was shot the 15100 block of Grant Avenue Southwest and drove to a nearby fast-food restaurant, where he sounded the horn of the truck.

Two soldiers found him with gunshot wounds to his head and shoulders. At the hospital, doctors took out one bullet and left others as they treated him.

Meanwhile, Suhanec, who had checked out a van from his military unit, left the vehicle behind and headed down the street from the shooting.

He put a gun to a woman’s head in her driveway and said he’d kill her if she didn’t give him her car keys. She said she didn’t know where they were, and he left.

Then he went to another nearby house, pounded on the door and demanded to be let inside. The residents said no, and after pounding some more and claiming to be police, he left.

At a third home he demanded car keys from the man inside, pointed a gun at him but left when the man refused.

Suhanec avoided capture by a police dog for hours by shedding his clothes, covering himself in mud and hiding in a hole.

When that got too cold, he gave up and turned himself in to a couple at a nearby house. They held him at gunpoint until police arrived.

Prosecutors said Suhanec told investigators he wanted to take the victim’s truck, “but things got out of control, and (his) training took over,” according to charging papers.

He showed police where he hid a gun, which investigators believe was stolen and used in the shooting.

Before the spree, prosecutors said, Suhanec went into the armory at JBLM to look at the 9mm handgun, which belongs to another soldier.

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