November 27, 2008 in City

Suspect arrested in mall shooting

Associated Press
 

TUKWILA, Wash. – Portland police have arrested a 21-year-old man charged in a weekend shooting at the Westfield Southcenter mall that killed one teen and wounded another in this south Seattle suburb.

Barry L. Saunders was picked up Wednesday afternoon in Portland, Tukwila police spokesman Officer Mike Murphy said.

Tukwila detectives headed to Portland to interview Saunders, who is accused of firing the shots that killed 16-year-old Diaquan L. Jones and wounded 15-year-old Jermaine McGowan.

In Portland, police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz said Saunders likely will appear in court Friday.

At that time, he will likely indicate whether he plans to waive extradition or fight his return to King County to face charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault in Saturday’s shooting.

Schmautz said Portland officers responding to an unrelated situation encountered Saunders. It was not immediately clear why they took him into custody.

“It was a total coincidence,” Schmautz said.

Tukwila’s Murphy said Saunders was detained around noon Wednesday, and it was a couple of hours later before Portland police learned of his identity.

Murphy said Tukwila police believe Saunders took off immediately after the mall shooting but the police spokesman said he did not know how long the young man had been in Portland or what he was doing there.

“It’s good to have a homicide suspect off the street,” Murphy said.

Saunders’ lawyer, David Gehrke, told the Oregonian newspaper that he hopes to talk to his client soon and will recommend that he waive extradition and return to Washington.

While Murphy stopped short of labeling Saturday’s shooting gang-related, he said “the behaviors involved are gang-related.”

In charging papers, witnesses said Jones and three friends threw gang signs at two others and insulted one of their friends, who had been shot earlier.

A fistfight broke out, and two shots were fired. Shoppers and mall employees fled in panic.

Police said witnesses and surveillance video identified Saunders as the gunman, according to charging papers.

Jones died Saturday night at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. McGowan has been listed in satisfactory condition at Harborview.

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