A family of four returned home late one April night on Kent’s West Hill from the grocery store, stepped out of their vehicle and suddenly were surrounded by gunfire in what prosecutors described as “an attempted thrill killing.”
A sedan drove up near the unsuspecting man, his girlfriend and their two children when a 17-year-old man allegedly fired about 19 shots at them with an assault rifle from the passenger seat of the car, according to court documents.
Despite the nearly two-dozen bullets that ripped through a residence in the 2400 block of South 260th Street and struck cars parked mere feet from the family, nobody was struck by the gunfire at the trailer park.
“The motive for this shooting appears to be the shooting itself,” wrote Jason Simmons, King County senior deputy prosecutor, in charging papers. “Neither the victims nor their neighbors, according to Kent detectives, have been involved in any known gang activity, drug activity or criminal organizations.
“It appears that this was a test of the rifle (an AK-47) and possibly an attempted thrill killing. An entire family, including an 8-year-old and a 13-year-old girl, could have easily been killed.”
Prosecutors on May 31 charged Rodney T. Strickland, 17, of SeaTac, the alleged shooter, and Melissa P. Langi, 23, of Tukwila, the reported driver, with four counts each of first-degree assault for the April 24 shooting. The two are scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, June 13, at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. Bail was set at $750,000 for each of them.
Strickland, Langi and Isiah Lewis, 18, of Seattle, also were reportedly involved in at least three Seattle shootings, unleashing hundreds of rounds from high-powered rifles and handguns, according to Seattle Police. Nearly 50 shots were fired at a home April 30 in South Seattle where one of the suspects mistakenly believed a rival gang member lived. No shots hit the resident of the home.
The same suspects allegedly fired more than two-dozen rounds at an oncoming vehicle on May 3 in the 6800 block of Holly Park Drive South. The victims, who escaped injury, were seemingly targeted simply because they were driving through the neighborhood, according to Seattle Police.
On May 4 in Seattle, the suspects fired at least 41 shots at an elderly couple, out delivering newspapers, who had driven past them. The man suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and shoulder and the woman sustained injuries from broken glass.
Detectives were able to link the shootings through forensics and have since recovered the AR-15 and AK-47 rifles.
Langi reportedly bought the assault rifle the same day as the Kent shooting. She discussed with detectives her intent and desire to go shooting. She admitted to driving the sedan during the Kent shooting but claims she did not know anyone was going to shoot. She told police she stored the rifle at her home, which police later found after getting a search warrant for her residence.
Prosecutors charged Strickland as an adult because he reportedly committed a serious violent crime. He has juvenile convictions for first-degree theft, obstruction, criminal trespass and theft of a motor vehicle. Strickland admitted to detectives to shooting the assault rifle at the Kent trailer park.