Prosecutors charge Renton man after state park shootings
July 29, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
Widow of slain man said suspect has gang connections
UPDATED — 10:55 a.m. July 29, 2010
The cousin of a man shot dead at Lake Sammamish State Park faces a weapons-possession charge in connection with the case.
David Keowongphet — cousin of the slain Yang Keovongphet — faces a first-degree unlawful firearm possession charge after police found guns and ammunition at his Renton home. King County prosecutors said the cousin, Keowongphet, also has gang ties.
The slain man’s widow told the King County Sheriff’s Office she saw the cousin fire a gun into the air during the July 17 shootout.
“David denied any knowledge of the murder and stated that he was at the park, but left prior to the shooting,” Detective Sue Peters wrote in court documents.
(The documents show the slain man and his cousin have different spellings for their last names.)
Kent resident Keovongphet, 33, and Seattle resident Justin Cunningham, 30, died during the gun battle at the popular Issaquah park.
Detectives recovered a gun near Cunningham and bullet evidence beneath his body, the documents state. Investigators also recovered four guns and at least 20 spent cartridges from .40 caliber, .45 caliber and 9 mm handguns near the shooting scene — a picnic area not far from the lakefront. Investigators found a semi-automatic handgun in tall grass near Keovongphet’s group.
The shootings occurred at about 9 p.m. July 17 after a dispute between rival groups at the park escalated into a fistfight and gunshots.
The court documents also offered additional details about the shootings and aftermath.
Keovongphet’s widow, Sann, and her husband arrived at about 6 p.m. for a picnic, she told Detective Kim Smith. The gathering had about 30 or 40 people, including the cousin’s ex-wife and children.
The cousin, Keowongphet, had been part of the other group and came to the Keovongphets’ group to say goodbye to his children. Cunningham accompanied the cousin, court document state.
Sann Keovongphet said about 10 or 15 “homeboys” from the cousin’s group approached the other gathering, “talking smack and trying to start a fight,” court documents state. Sann Keovongphet told Keowongphet to stop his “homeboys,” she told the detective.
Yang Keovongphet and his cousin tried to stop the problem. Then, people starting punching each other. Sann Keovongphet said she saw the cousin shooting into the air. She did not know if her husband had been armed.
The crowd scattered as “it sounded like people were emptying their clips,” she told the detective.
Sann Keovongphet found her husband’s body face-down on the ground after the shootout. Yang Keovongphet had suffered a gunshot wound in the left shoulder and chest area.
Investigators said Keovongphet and Cunningham died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds.
The shootout injured three other people — a 20 year-old North Bend man, a 22-year-old Seattle man and a 16-year-old Renton boy. None of them suffered life-threatening injuries.
Police said a fourth man had facial injuries as a result of the fistfight. Medics transported him to Overlake Hospital Medical Center with minor injuries.
The next night, Keowongphet called Sann Keovongphet to ask if “everything was cool” between them. The widow “told him no and that his group had killed her husband” before she hung up on him.
The widow identified Keowongphet as a member of the Asian Boyz gang.
Investigators later conducted surveillance outside Keowongphet’s home during the afternoon after the shooting. Undercover officers arrested him as he left the residence.
Officers obtained a warrant, and later searched the residence. Investigators found body armor and ammunition out in the open. The search later turned up a .45 caliber pistol tucked under a mattress and a .40 caliber pistol in a hallway linen closet.
Investigators also found ammunition throughout the house, plus shell casings in the backyard.
Keowongphet cannot possess weapons due to prior convictions for assault, weapons possession and attempting to elude police.
The sheriff’s office booked Keowongphet into the King County Jail on July 18. The suspect is due in court for a Wednesday arraignment hearing.