Police probe link between Seattle and state park shootings

September 18, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 18, 2010

The shooting of a man in Seattle early Friday morning has prompted police to search for a possible link between the incident and the deadly shootout at Lake Sammamish State Park in July.

Seattle police responded to a report of shots fired at 2:53 a.m. Friday at a South Seattle apartment building. Officers located a man in his late teens or early 20s with a gunshot wound to the face.

Police discovered the man inside his ground-floor apartment; he appears to have been shot through an open window by someone outside.

Seattle Fire Department medics transported the man to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

Police described the two suspects as Asian men in their late teens to early 20s, 5-foot-7-inches  to 5-foot-8-eight inches tall, and dressed in dark upper-body clothing and blue jeans. The suspects fled the scene in a white sedan with a low back end.

The shootings at Lake Sammamish State Park ripped through the summer recreation spot at about 9 p.m. July 17.

Kent resident Keovongphet, 33, and Seattle resident Justin Cunningham, 30, died from multiple gunshots during the gun battle at the popular Issaquah park.

The only person charged in connection to the incident is Keovongphet’s cousin, David Keowongphet. (The men have different spellings for their surnames.)

Keowongphet faces a first-degree unlawful weapons possession charge; he has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The shootings occurred after a dispute between rival groups at the park escalated into a fistfight and gunshots.

Detectives recovered a gun near Cunningham and bullet evidence beneath his body, court 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.

Members from Keowongphet’s group approached the other gathering, “talking smack and trying to start a fight,” court documents state. Then, people starting punching each other. The cousin’s widow said Keowongphet fired shots into the air.

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.

Police arrested Keowongphet outside his residence in Renton the following night. Investigators uncovered body armor, ammunition and guns tucked in a linen closet and beneath a mattress inside the home.

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.

Keowongphet cannot possess weapons due to prior felony convictions. Prosecutors also said he had ties to the Asian Boyz gang.

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