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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Man charged in Tacoma security guard’s death

UPDATED: Fri., July 23, 2021

Associated Press

Associated Press

TACOMA – Authorities say a security guard found dead in downtown Tacoma was severely beaten by a U.S. Army Ranger after she tried to stop the intoxicated man from entering a building, according to court documents.

The News Tribune reported Friday that Pierce County prosecutors charged 26-year-old Patrick Byrne, who is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, with two counts of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree kidnapping. It wasn’t immediately clear if Byrne had an attorney.

The 41-year-old victim was identified as Denise Smith of Seattle. She was found at 6:10 a.m. Sunday in the lobby of a building where she’d recently started working.

“Detectives who later examined the victim reported that the victim was unrecognizable due to the severity of the injuries that were inflicted on her,” prosecutors wrote in charging papers.

According to charging papers Byrne was out drinking with friends in downtown Tacoma and got into a bar fight where he was punched in the face. He then left the bar and walked in the direction of the building.

Authorities say Byrne approached the front door and the security guard motioned for him to leave. When he didn’t, the guard opened the front door and Byrne tried to barge past. The security guard grabbed his shirt to stop him.

That’s when he began beating her for 8 to 10 minutes, records say.

“The defendant repeatedly punched the victim with his fists, and he grabbed her by her braid and ‘dragged her around like a rag doll,’ ” prosecutors wrote.

Byrne told detectives he did not remember the attack, authorities say.

Byrne’s first court appearance was Friday. He entered a plea of not guilty. A judge set bail at $2 million.

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