Explosive device destroys car, causes ‘immense fire’ during Auburn funeral

AUBURN, Wash. — Police are looking for a man who blew up a car and caused a huge fire during a funeral at an Auburn cemetery last month. Investigators say the suspect also shot at City of Auburn employees.

On Aug. 23, police say a passenger in a car put an explosive device in a funeral attendee’s car during the memorial at Mountain View Cemetery, which is owned by the City of Auburn.

The explosive device created an “immense fire,” which destroyed the victim’s vehicle and surrounding trees, according to Auburn police.

An employee says that as a group of 60 to 80 people was mourning during the funeral, someone approached one of the parked cars, throwing something inside.

“They saw a guy run up to the window and break it,” said the employee, who asked not to be identified for safety. “Then, not even 30 seconds later, the car exploded,” he said. The employee shared pictures and video of the scene with KIRO7 that shows the victim’s vehicle – a black Lexus sedan – was destroyed.

The employee says the suspect ran back to another car a short distance away and waited about 30 seconds to watch the victim’s vehicle explode before speeding off.

“And my lead over the radio said, ‘Get the license plate number of that black car!’” the employee said. He and another co-worker tried to follow the suspect vehicle and they pursued a short distance outside the cemetery.

“The guy popped out of the window and fired four or five shots at me and my co-worker,” he said. That’s when they took cover. “We just ducked, put it in reverse, and got back here,” he said.

“Are you doing OK?” KIRO7′s Deedee Sun asked.

“Yeah,” the employee said. “I don’t know what to make of it. It happened so fast and I got a family I have to feed and take care of, so I got to get home at night.”

The funeral and explosion happened more than two weeks ago, on Aug. 23. But with no arrests, Auburn police are asking for your help.

“It’s a very unusual situation. It’s one we really want to figure out,” said Kolby Crossley, a spokesperson for the Auburn Police Department. “The passenger was the one who threw the explosive device, and the passenger was also the one who shot the rounds. But there was also someone who was driving him.”

The suspect vehicle was described as a black Acura RL with no license plates, and police shared an image asking for the public’s help to identify the car. However, Auburn police acknowledged that commenters on social media were disputing the make and model of the car based on the photo investigators shared.

The suspect was described as a tall man wearing a full black ski mask.

Anyone who recognizes the car or has any information about the case is asked to contact the Auburn police tip line at 253-288-7403.

“It caused a serious fire. And all things considered, we’re pretty thankful no one was hurt. Because this could’ve been 10 times worse than what it was,” Crossley said.

KIRO7 asked Auburn police if the incident was a retaliation or how the suspect might’ve known the victim. Crossley said detectives were still investigating the motive behind the arson and attempted shooting.

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