LAKEWOOD, Wash. - Friends of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who police said was stabbed to death by another soldier said the killer is a traitor who betrayed his country.
Lakewood police arrested three soldiers, and booked them into jail for investigation of murder Monday. One of them, 23-year-old Jeremiah Hill, is accused of fatally stabbing 20-year-old Tevin Geike early Saturday.
Matthew Barnes was with Geike when he was murdered. He said he is infuriated that police have arrested another soldier for killing his friend.
“I want to be able to look him in the eye and ask him, 'Why, why did you do this?'" said Barnes. “He should be shot for betraying his country and his comrades.”
Brian Johnson was also there when Geike was stabbed.
“He betrayed his nation. Either life in prison, which I don’t think would cut it. Or, death by firing squad. Those are the two things I believe a traitor deserves, ” Johnson said.
Initially, the stabbing was reported as a possible hate crime.
Geike was walking with two other white men, both soldiers, along Pacific Avenue Southwest. A car passed them with five black men inside, who then came back.
Detectives said Hill and four other JBLM soldiers were about to fight Geike and his two friends, but when they realized they were all soldiers, everyone backed-off, except Hill, according to witnesses.
Police said Hill suddenly stabbed Geike while the other soldiers were heading back to the car.
"It doesn't appear at this time that race was a motivating factor, that it was hate crime, said Chris Lawler of the Lakewood Police Department.
Lawler pointed out that "nobody said 'Let's get those white guys.'" Police said they have no explanation as to why Hill suddenly stabbed Geike. Lawler said they didn't fight and didn't even talk to each other. Hill has not explained his actions to police.
Two of the other soldiers he was riding with, Cedarium Johnson and Ajoni Runnion-Bareford, were also arrested. Police said they helped Hill after the crime.
Lakewood police said the knife used in the attack was found in a wooded area in Tillicum, where it was tossed by the suspects.
The three men will have their first court appearance in Tacoma on Tuesday.
Police said two additional soldiers in the car were not arrested because they were not involved in the stabbing and have been fully cooperating with police.