Neighbor who fired shot at Lakewood road rage suspect pinned between house, car

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — A Lakewood man who fired a shot at a road rage suspect who was speeding toward him became pinned between a car and his house when the suspect hit a car parked in the driveway.

The victim later died from his injuries.

A wild series of events led up to that neighborhood confrontation Wednesday night. Milton Police Chief Tony Hernandez says the first 911 call came in from someone on Meridian Avenue and Milton Way. They told the operator someone had waved a gun at them from inside a black SUV and then drove away.

Hernandez estimates it was five or 10 minutes later when the second report was made from 17th Avenue and Queens Street with a similar story and similar suspect description.

“This individual was brazen already, waving a firearm with reckless disregard for anybody’s safety,” said Hernandez.

At about 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a Lakewood Police Department K-9 unit was on its way to help Milton police with a road rage and aggravated assault with a firearm incident when the Lakewood officers spotted the suspect’s black SUV near Lakewood.

The K-9 officer began following the SUV while waiting for backup when the driver fled into a residential neighborhood in Lakewood near State Route 512 and South Tacoma Way.

A short time later, the driver stopped, backed up at a high rate of speed and rammed the Lakewood K-9 vehicle twice with his SUV, according to a post on the Lakewood Police Department’s Facebook page.

To prevent being rammed again, the K-9 officer quickly backed up and hit a parked car.

Meanwhile, a man who lives in the neighborhood heard the commotion and came outside armed with a shotgun.

The suspect, who was trying to flee the scene in his SUV, sped toward the man in the driveway. The man fired a shot at the SUV, possibly hitting it in the grill.

The suspect then hit a car in the man’s driveway, pushing the car into the man’s house and pinning the resident in between the car and his house.

Lakewood officers arrested the suspect and gave emergency medical help to the victim. The 43-year-old man was transported to a local hospital with critical injuries. He later died after surgery.

The cars and the house have major damage.

The 38-year-old suspect was taken to a hospital with minor injuries from the crashes.

Police said they saw a gun in the passenger compartment of the suspect’s SUV. The vehicle was impounded while a search warrant is obtained.

The K-9 officer and his partner were not hurt in the crashes.

After he is released from the hospital, the suspect will be booked into the Pierce County Jail on multiple felony charges related to the incidents in Milton and Lakewood.

Hernandez says the vigilante justice, the busted-up squad car and the destruction of the Lakewood home are all symptoms of a bigger issue: restrictions placed on officers by House Bill 10-54.

“Officers are feeling like their hands are tied when it comes to responding to these violent cases,” said Hernandez. “There’s no accountability until they arise to the level of where they hurt or kill somebody.”