‘We were the sole surviving members’: Daughter mourns murdered Tacoma business owner

TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma business owner Ray Stebbins was found shot to death in his car on 1200 South 28th Street on Monday.

His daughter, Tabitha Gaulin talked with KIRO 7. She said police initially thought her dad had taken his own life. He was found with a gunshot wound to the head.

Court documents show investigators then found more bullets in the car’s door, and a second gunshot wound right next to the first one and a homicide investigation ensued. Tacoma police would arrest suspect, Jerry Davila on the 22 for the killing.

Court documents show a dog helped tie him to the crime, and it wasn’t a police K-9.

Stebbins parked outside his Tacoma business, A to B Auto Sales around 6 a.m. Monday. Documents show a minivan pulled up before Davila and a black dog got out. Stebbins’ daughter says the minivan was her dad’s and that it was parked across the street.

Court documents show Davila opening the driver’s side door to Stebbin’s car in a “clear disturbance”. The dog flinches twice before running away. Investigators say the dog flinching was reacting to the gunshots. The same dog was hit by a car at a nearby intersection and taken to the Humane Society where the owner was contacted.

The owner who was a former girlfriend of Davila went to pick her dog up with Davila in tow. Gaulin says she is lost without her dad.

“We were the sole surviving members of our family,” said Gaulin. “We would do stuff together we knew everything about where the other was going.”

Gaulin says her dad Ray was all she had left after her mom passed away in 2022. Her older sister died suddenly in 2014.

Monday around 7 p.m. someone from her dad’s shop called her and told her he never showed up for work. Then she got a heart-wrenching call.

“Thirty-five minutes later I got a call saying we lost my dad,” she said. “A lot of the details in the beginning were very undetermined.”

Court documents show security footage caught a clear shot of Davila’s face. Police arrested Davila on the spot at the Humane Society when he went to pick up the dog with his former girlfriend.

She also had a protective order against him for previous 2nd Degree Assault and Felony Harassment charges stemming from a 2021 incident where court documents say he threatened to kill her.

“It sounds like the shooter pushed my father into the passenger seat where he was trying to get his body in the first place. got into the driver’s seat and dumped it blocks away,” said Gaulin.

Davila is facing two murder charges along with an unlawful use of a firearm charge. There is a GoFundMe set up to help Gaulin with her dad’s services.