• 'He wasn't that kind of kid.' Classmates of teen murder/robbery suspects express shock, grief

    By: Gary Horcher

    Updated:

    Classmates of two 16-year-old Decatur High School students accused of armed robbery and the murder of a Puyallup store owner expressed shock and confusion to KIRO-7 News when they heard the allegations -- and learned one of the teen suspects was also later found slain.

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    "Nobody here saw this coming," said David Fierro, a classmate of both suspects. 

    One of the suspects faced a Pierce County judge Thursday, but since he has not been officially charged been charged with a crime, KIRO-7 will not identify him.

    Court documents indicate he and 16-year-old Franklin Thuo -- who was identified Thursday by the Pierce County Medical Examiner -- were armed with guns when they robbed a Puyallup store owned by 79-year-old Soon Ja Nam around 5 p.m. Saturday.

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    Prosecutors say one of the suspects shot Nam in the back after Nam struggled to open the cash register, and walked away from the counter toward her husband in the store's office.

    On Monday, detectives say Franklin Thuo's body was found floating in shallow water near Chinook Landing Marina. The medical examiner said Thuo had been shot in the head.

    "I’d see Franklin every day at school," said Fierro, adding that Thuo was a good student, and had never been in trouble at the school.

    "I'd talk to him every day. so to hear that he was in trouble like this was kind of crazy."

    Fierro said Thuo was known for being positive, big-hearted and upbeat.

    "He wasn't that type of guy to like be in that kind of stuff," Fierro said. "Everybody knew him. He was a happy guy with all smiles. To find out that he was involved with that was kind of heartbreaking for all of us, because it just didn't seem like something he would do."

    The other suspect was a football player at Decatur High, and his arrest also left his classmates in shock.

    "Nobody really would have thought that he would have done something like this either," said Fierro. "He's just not that kind of kid."

    Charging documents say both 16-year-olds threatened another customer with guns and left in Thuo's  2003 Nissan Sentra, which was later found without license plates.

    Prosecutors say Thou returned home after the robbery, but left home Sunday and never returned.

    Detectives also say a video -- allegedly posted online by the gunmen before the robbery -- showed the teenagers in a car showing off several handguns while wearing runner gloves.

    The surviving suspect was arrested by Pierce County detectives on his way to school Wednesday morning. 

    "It's not like something that just happened and people are moving on," said Fierro, describing his classmates' disbelief when hearing the news. "Franklin actually had an effect in our lives," Fierro said.
     

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