Brothers charged in fatal shooting at Tacoma gas station

This photo released by Tacoma police shows the gunman in the fatal shooting at the Arco gas station at 3601 Center St. on Monday.
This photo released by Tacoma police shows the gunman in the fatal shooting at the Arco gas station at 3601 Center St. on Monday. Courtesy of Tacoma Police Department

Pierce County prosecutors on Wednesday charged a man suspected of killing Julian “Jay” Thomas at a Tacoma gas station in a barrage of bullets.

Warrants were issued for the suspected gunman, Robert Deshawn Grott, 29, and his brother Rashaad Dominque Grott, 22, who have possibly fled to California, where they once lived.

Robert Grott is charged with first-degree murder. Rashaad Grott is charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance for allegedly driving his brother out of the state after the shooting.

Police said Robert Grott fired 46 rounds into a Chevrolet Impala sedan as Thomas sat in the driver’s seat about 12:40 p.m. Monday at an Arco gas station at 3601 Center St.

Thomas, 23, was hit 10 times.

Two women who were with him managed to get out of the car and hide.

Several bullets hit the front of the crowded AM-PM convenience store at the gas station and shattered the glass but did not injure anyone inside.

Dozens of people saw the shooting and one person took a photograph and a 3-second video clip, allowing detectives to release a grainy image that helped lead to Robert Grott being identified within 24 hours, officials say.

Charging papers give this account:

Witnesses saw Robert Grott leave his skateboard at a nearby bus stop before walking up behind the car with Thomas and opening fire. He reloaded twice. He then grabbed his skateboard and ran away.

Two men followed Robert Grott in their vehicle and reported to police that he was outside an abandoned house in the 2900 block of South Madison Street.

Officers surrounded the home but no one was inside. They tried to follow footprints in the grass but soon lost the trail.

The next day, a bomb squad and search dogs were called out to South Madison Street to look for the gun used in the shooting. It has not been found.

One of Thomas’ relatives saw the image of the shooter and told detectives that it looked like Robert Grott, who argued with Thomas nearly five months ago about a missing handgun.

Details about the dispute were not available.

Records indicated Robert Grott once lived on South Madison Street so police returned to the home with a search warrant.

They said Robert Grott’s Dodge Challenger was parked in a driveway and a box for a Glock 19 9mm pistol was found in his bedroom.

That gun is consistent with the type of casings found in the Arco parking lot.

The Grotts’ mother, who lives in California, told Tacoma police that her sons fled Washington in Rashaad Grott’s car, records show.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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