Suspect accused in fatal shooting, killing Tacoma police dog formally charged

TACOMA, Wash. — A felon has been charged with fatally shooting a fellow gang member and killing a Tacoma police dog at the time of his arrest.

Pierce County prosecutors have charged Dyrell Swinson, 27, with second-degree murder, harming a police dog, three counts of first-degree assault and one count of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

An arraignment date has not been set because Swinson remains hospitalized while recovering from a gunshot wound inflicted by a Tacoma officer.

Swinson was wanted at the time of the shootings Wednesday and Thursday for failing to register as a sex offender.

He has eight prior felonies, including sex trafficking of children, attempting to elude and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Charging papers give this account of the homicide and fatal shooting of the police dog:

Swinson was apparently suspicious that a friend and fellow gang member, 28-year-old Jake Red, was romantically involved with the mother of Swinson’s children.

He confronted Red, who denied it, and the men hung out normally Wednesday.

But just before 5 p.m. that day, Swinson pulled up alongside a vehicle Red was riding in and asked why he wasn’t answering his cell phone.

Both vehicles pulled into a parking lot at South 64th Street and South Yakima Avenue so the friends could continue the conversation.

The third man present said all three men were good friends and belonged to the same gang.

As they chatted, Swinson again accused Red of sleeping with the mother of his children and Red again denied it.

Swinson allegedly walked to his vehicle and retrieved a handgun.

“He said words to the effect of, ‘I think you’re playing me,’ and then, without provocation, shot Red in the neck,” prosecutors wrote in charging papers.

The other man grabbed a gun from his own car and fired several shots at Swinson as he fled.

He then drove Red from the scene, seeking help. He also allegedly hid the gun he fired and several rounds of ammunition, which he later directed police to.

Officers arrived at the scene of the shootout and found multiple shell casings from two guns.

They also found an SUV nearby with the witness and Red inside.

Red had been shot several times in the neck, back and stomach, records say.

Surveillance footage backs up the story of the witness, who identified Swinson as the shooter, police said.

Officers were searching the city for Swinson after the homicide and found him about 1:15 a.m. Thursday.

They tried to pull him over but he sped off, initiating a pursuit.

Police found Swinson’s car abandoned after he crashed into an unoccupied vehicle and began searching all yards in the neighborhood. They also called for a K-9 search, done by the newest police dog in the department, Ronja.

About a half hour into the search, an officer found Swinson hiding beneath an SUV and ordered him to come out.

Several officers in the area, including Ronja’s handler, heard their colleague’s orders and walked toward the officer and the vehicle they believed Swinson was hiding beneath.

The officers, however, assumed Swinson was hiding underneath the wrong vehicle and walked directly past the SUV where Swinson was obscured.

When an officer kneeled down to get a better look, Swinson allegedly opened fire toward three officers and Ronja.

The police dog’s handler was struck by shrapnel; Ronja was shot and died at a veterinarian hospital.

“To be clear, at the time the defendant opened fire, K-9 Ronja had not located him or advanced on him,” prosecutors wrote in charging papers.

One officer returned fire, striking Swinson.

Swinson was taken to an area hospital in critical condition and is expected to recover.

A handgun and ammunition was found underneath the SUV where Swinson was hiding, records say.

“It appears that the defendant stopped shooting at the officers only because his firearm malfunctioned when two live rounds were fed into the chamber,” prosecutors wrote.