Followup: Police reveal details of Monday night shootings, confirming robbery attempt/self-defense; suspect’s bail $1 million

(UPDATED THURSDAY EVENING with more information on suspect’s background and status – scroll down)

(Monday night photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
As first reported here Tuesday, friends and family of the man shot Monday night at Charlestown and Avalon, 27-year-old musician Rick Powell, on duty at the time as a driver for hire, were told Powell was defending himself during a robbery attempt – and that the man found shot minutes later on Delridge was the suspect. (Here’s our original coverage from the night it happened.) We had been asking police for confirmation and just got it. We also have heard from a friend of Powell’s, who says his surgery on Wednesday went well. Benefits are being set up to raise money for Powell – including this one.

Meantime, here’s how SPD Blotter‘s Jonah Spangenthal-Lee tells the story (followed by additional information we have researched):

A 19-year-old felon is in jail recovering from gunshot wounds and facing charges for seriously wounding another man in an exchange of gunfire during a violent robbery attempt in West Seattle …
Shortly after 11 pm on April 1st, a 27-year-old for-hire driver pulled his Cadillac over along SW Charlestown Street and Avalon Way SW, and stepped out of his car to smoke a cigarette.
As the victim was standing on the street, 19-year-old Juan Carlos Garcia-Mendez — released from a Yakima prison just four days earlier, after serving time for burglary and robbery — drove past the victim, and pulled down the street ahead of the 27-year-old man.

Garcia-Mendez climbed out of his car and closed in on 27-year-old, drawing a handgun, and shoving it in the victim’s chest.

The victim — who had a concealed weapon permit — drew his own gun, but Garcia-Mendez opened fire, striking the 27-year-old man several times in the chest.

The victim fired off several shots of own, hitting Garcia-Mendez in the hand and hip.
Garcia-Mendez fled the scene just as police began receiving reports of gunfire from neighbors in the area.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found the victim slumped on the ground behind his car. Officers performed CPR and called for medics, who rushed the victim to Harborview in critical condition.

About 10 minutes later, police got a call from a woman, who said her boyfriend had been shot and was waiting for police near Delridge Way SW and SW Findlay.

When officers arrived at Delridge and Findlay, they found a wounded Garcia-Mendez, who refused to tell police who had shot him.

Medics took Garcia-Mendez to Harborview as police began trying to figure out if Garcia-Mendez was tied to the shooting of the 27-year-old man.

Police had found blood in Garcia-Mendez’s car, but with the victim in surgery, no witnesses, and a mum Garcia-Mendez, detectives at the time, didn’t yet have enough evidence to arrest Garcia-Mendez.
Detectives learned Garcia-Mendez was on Department of Corrections supervision, and contacted DOC to let them know about the incident. DOC in turn told police that Garcia-Mendez had left Yakima without permission from his DOC supervisor — a violation of his release from prison — and sent DOC officers to guard him as he underwent treatment at the hospital and detectives continued their investigation.

Homicide detectives worked straight through the next 24 hours gathering evidence from the scene of alleyway shooting, and were able to get surveillance video clearly showing Garcia-Mendez opening fire on his 27-year-old victim.

Detectives are still working to identify several of Garcia-Mendez’s accomplices in the robbery. Garcia-Mendez has been booked into the King County Jail for first-degree assault and a DOC violation.

Again, the victim has been publicly identified as Rick Powell, a Pierce County resident who underwent extensive surgery on Wednesday, according to friends who have been in contact with WSB. In addition to the fundraiser link we have added at the top of this story, other benefits are in the works and we’ll add more information on them. (We’re also researching the suspect’s record.)

3:03 PM UPDATE: Here’s another benefit announced by friends of the victim – an April 18 show at a North Seattle bar.

5:05 PM: More information on suspect Garcia-Mendez – his bail is now set at $1 million. We’ve looked up the court documents on the crime for which he is reported to have just left prison – it was a home-invasion robbery in 2010, at which time he was 16 years old, and one of three suspects in the crime (at least one of whom knew the victims, according to the court documents). He was reported in those documents to have a criminal history dating back to 2007, when he would have been just 13, including burglary, assault, trespassing, obstruction, and drug offenses.

10 PM: Additional documents in the case mention that Rick Powell’s family told police he had been robbed before. We’ve also learned that Garcia-Mendez is charged with unlawful firearm possession as well as assault. We’ll have a followup tomorrow morning.

50 Replies to "Followup: Police reveal details of Monday night shootings, confirming robbery attempt/self-defense; suspect's bail $1 million"

  • Slam dunk April 4, 2013 (2:49 pm)

    #1. Caught on video
    #2. DoC felon parole violation leaving Yakima

    Done and over.

    So glad the driver is healing. Best wishes.

  • Guy April 4, 2013 (3:05 pm)

    Wow!Luckily Rick got off a few rounds!

  • Heather April 4, 2013 (3:11 pm)

    Wow. Kind of impressive police work on this one. Good job.

  • T Rex April 4, 2013 (3:15 pm)

    Had the victim not been carrying a weapon, he more than likey would be dead.

    Glad to hear they caught the SOB and glad to hear that the cameras helped.

  • Draw! April 4, 2013 (3:22 pm)

    Had he not drawn on a guy who already had a gun on him, he more than likely wouldn’t have been shot.

    Also very glad the felon is off the street hopefully they get the girl friend as well.

  • JoAnne April 4, 2013 (3:24 pm)

    If he is only 19 now, Garcia must have not served much time for his burglary and robbery.
    Why was he let out of prison with so little time?

    • WSB April 4, 2013 (3:25 pm)

      I don’t know how much info I’ll get but will be researching – after we get through coverage of a reported armed robbery that just happened …

  • rg April 4, 2013 (3:24 pm)

    I can’t say that my decision to relocate to Kirkland recently was an easy one… but It makes more sense everyday. I think someone egged a school bus in my neighborhood the other day.

  • Near Alki April 4, 2013 (3:33 pm)

    None of this would have happened if this was a gun free zone (sarcasm)… dare I post this??

  • Eric April 4, 2013 (4:03 pm)

    #1. Caught on video
    #2. Felon with a gun
    #3. Felon that skipped out on parole
    #4. Out only 4 days
    #5. Critically shot a person in an attempted robbery (something he just got out of prison for)

    Can we please get this P.O.S. off of the streets for good? It is obvious this guy has no intention of trying to turn his life around. Within 4 days, he skipped out on parole, aquired a gun, and critically shot a person trying to rob them. I just hope the courts throw the book at him and put him away for a long time before he procreates.

  • marty April 4, 2013 (4:08 pm)

    Another reason I like cameras, even if they “infringe on my rights”!

  • PJ April 4, 2013 (4:10 pm)

    First degree assault? How about attempted murder?

  • bada-bing April 4, 2013 (4:19 pm)

    None of this would have happened if we were allowed to conceal carry. Oh… wait…

  • E April 4, 2013 (4:22 pm)

    Please help Rick Powell here if you can:

    All funds raised in this campaign will go directly to Rick so that he can pay medical bills and procure services for his long recovery.

    Thank You

    • WSB April 4, 2013 (4:38 pm)

      E – we’ve linked to those and will mention them again as we track this case. If anyone you know would like to talk to us more about him (or even send some info) for a separate story – we have seen so much about what a great guy he is – including a photo (or permission to use the one on the fundraiser page), that would help too. – Hoping for a full recovery. If people didn’t catch our original coverage, it’s pretty amazing he has survived – he was reported to be getting CPR in the early going – TR

  • cascadianone April 4, 2013 (4:28 pm)

    If the “victim” had not been armed, this animal would have succeeded in his crime and gotten away with it. Instead, he FAILED and SUFFERED and was ARRESTED. Our world would be a MUCH better place if all violent crime attempts resulted in the bad guy taking fire from the so-called victims.

    Too bad the thug lived, now we have to pay for him to relax in prison with his homies. Even worse, he’ll probably get out again in a few years and be back at it. Ugh.

    I’ll be ready for him, though… will you?

  • kas April 4, 2013 (5:12 pm)

    Sad story, and well wishes to the victim. However, nice to hear the positive side of a surveillance camera in use – it can do nothing but help prosecute this dirtbag.

  • joel April 4, 2013 (5:19 pm)

    and people don’t want cameras on the street? maybe the unsolved murder at Alki would be solved if the cameras were in place.

    people say it’s police not doing their job but it’s the courts who keep letting these kind of people back on the streets.

    this person should have been behind bars to begin with. I don’t blame SPD for sometimes taking a few hits at people they risk their lives to arrest one day and then to see them back on the streets days later.

  • NM April 4, 2013 (5:22 pm)

    “Had he not drawn on a guy who already had a gun on him, he more than likely wouldn’t have been shot”.

    Yup, blaming the victim is a great argument.

    “None of this would have happened if we were allowed to conceal carry. Oh… wait…”

    I understand the sarcasm here but we are all allowed to carry as long as we pass the criteria established by the state. Some will choose to carry and some will not. I carry because the police took my fingerprints and I passed the monthlong background check. It’s also the reason why I can obtain a pistol same day without waiting. Others don’t feel it’s necessary or don’t want to, good for you. It’s not for everyone. I choose to give myself, my family, my friends and anyone a fighting chance in the very unlikely chance that someone tries to take our lives. Yes, I said UNLIKELY. Sometimes you can’t reason with people and I would rather have the ability to defend myself and not need it than to need it and not have it.

    As for the guy deciding to shoot or not, you have no idea what the 19 year old convicted felon intended to do and neither do I, so why don’t we give Rick Powell a break and wish him well in his recovery. seriously…

  • Todd April 4, 2013 (5:41 pm)

    I just donated…I hope others do, too.

  • CandrewB April 4, 2013 (6:03 pm)

    Can we ship his girlfriend out of here as well? Garcia will never pay a dime for his treatment. Powell will have to declare bankruptcy.

  • raincity April 4, 2013 (7:47 pm)

    It is a great relief this suspect is in custody. So much has happened over the last week. Well wishes to Rick Powell – speedy recovery.

  • Marcus M April 4, 2013 (7:50 pm)

    Sad state of affairs all around. The saddest of all is the fact that the victim will be completely bankrupted by his hospital bills and that the only hope any of us have of paying for surgeries is to hold a community bake sale.

  • E April 4, 2013 (7:54 pm)

    Thank you very much, Todd!

  • Cheetah fast dad April 4, 2013 (8:20 pm)

    Thoughts go out to Rick Powell. Other seem to be airing their views on 2nd amendment issues — detracting from the travesty Many thanks to the Seattle Police Department for the work and to WSB for the coverage. Now — can the prosecutor’s office make it mean something? That’s a story worth tracking.

    • WSB April 4, 2013 (8:42 pm)

      We’ll be following the case. The $1 million bail is a factoid we picked up by unique research – wasn’t in what the police released today. (edited – I’ve just found some more documentation I’m checking out now) – TR

  • Zach April 4, 2013 (8:49 pm)

    Nice job Rick!

  • Sasa April 4, 2013 (9:05 pm)

    Hopefully, and most likely, Powell WILL receive charity care at Harborview. Being uninsured, he most definitely will be offered this. That’s the one bright thing I could think / contribute. My prayers are with him.

  • x April 4, 2013 (9:36 pm)

    Attempted robbery?….he needs to be charged with Attempted murder….Rick rules!!…..please donate and come to all the benefits.

  • KD April 4, 2013 (10:07 pm)

    WSB, any idea where the cam footage was from? I know a lot of business’s along there, so thankyou to whomever’s footage!!

    • WSB April 4, 2013 (10:45 pm)

      There was scanner discussion that night that British Auto had cameras, and its owner came to the scene. I don’t know if those were the only ones.

  • Alki commuter April 4, 2013 (10:44 pm)

    Just made a donation. Hope Rick recovers quickly.

  • witness April 4, 2013 (11:36 pm)

    I live at the scene of the incident and am one of three people who saw Rick on the ground before police responded. I was sure he had died and am seriously amazed at the ability of cpr and modern medicine. Although nothing compared to what Rick, his family and friends are going through, this incident has been traumatic for me and my family who were just feet from the gunfire and what at the time was a lifeless body. The three blocks surrounding this spot have become somewhat of a hotspot for transients, drug deals, stolen cars and theft, and now add to this list attempted murder. Despite all of these problems, I feel grateful to all of the neighbors who watch, who report, and who do their best to contribute to creating a safe community. I want to thank Duos catering/lounge for doing an amazing job at being proactive at dealing with many issues since their arrival. I also want to thank the Seattle police for responding swiftly and saving Rick’s life. I want to thank British Auto for actually having their security camera running (who would have thought?!). And also, thank you to the west Seattle blog and friends of Rick for keeping me informed as much as you could as I agonized over a very scary experience. I will contribute as much as I can to the fundraiser and I hope our community can pull together to significantly ease Rick’s burden as he recovers.

  • Gman206 April 5, 2013 (1:26 am)

    You do not know at the time of someone putting a gun in your face whether they are going to shot or not. I have been in this situation and saw in his eyes hewas going to kill me and my friend. I chose to shoot and luckily it changed their mind. It’s amazing how the eyes change from kill to oh sht. I had confirmation a month later from the man I shot Mother, who said her son told her they were going to kill us and take their sht. That would have been two West Seattlites dead in WS. He is doing 45 years for a prior murder and attempt on us. My shot gave police the lead to arrest a 19 yr old on a killing spree that was stopped at one. So who knows if this guy would have shot Rick if he didn’t pull his only Rick and this out off control kid does. Maybe Rick saved your life? Think about it…

  • T Rex April 5, 2013 (7:28 am)

    Draw, read the incident report, the felon drew on the victim first.

    “Garcia-Mendez climbed out of his car and closed in on 27-year-old, drawing a handgun, and shoving it in the victim’s chest.”

    Our world is changing people and carrying a concealed weapon with a proper permit will one day be the norm. With the soft judges and the over crowding of prisons, low lifes like this are released everyday. We law abiding citizens will soon be out numbered. But if you want to try and talk them out of robbing you, feel free. I will talk to the them after the fact.

    Godspeed Rick and may you have a healthy recovery.

  • JS April 5, 2013 (10:56 am)

    Best of luck in recovery to Rick. Worst of luck back in prison to the SOB. Bad guys know how to get guns and don’t go through background checks. They do not obey the law. The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. For those dreaming of a Utopian society where everyone gets along and sings Kumbaya and has no need for guns, how about directing your ire towards the media violence that bombards society daily? Movies, video games, TV news, internet. A gun is a tool, an inanimate object. Bad or crazy guys get ideas of what to do with that tool by watching media. Yet nationally there’s NO efforts to curb media violence, only remove and/or further restrict gun ownership. Why is that?

  • Tracey April 5, 2013 (1:10 pm)

    I’m glad to read that the victim is recovering and that the perp is behind bars with a high bail. In general, I have mixed feelings about guns. But, hey, in this situation everything worked out alright.

  • Rendee April 5, 2013 (3:19 pm)

    My family and I are reading these comments and it just warms our hearts. We never imagined something like this happening in our family. We are beyond thankful to the many strangers who have reached out, those who called 911, those who have donated, set up donation sites, the many friends who have helped in countless ways, even just the comments here. We THANK YOU! When a tragedy like this strikes your family you wonder how anyone could do such a thing to a man who is so gentle, loving, and caring but we are reminded that there are still good people out there. God bless each and every one of you. It comforts each and every one of us to read the positive comments, feel the love in the community, and to know how many people this has affected. Thank you to those who saved Rick’s life and to all of Rick’s friends…you are angels and you have been such a comfort to my family, more than you will ever know.

  • Christina April 5, 2013 (6:06 pm)

    God Bless You Rick, I Love You And You Are In My Prayers Cousin! Wish I Were There With You And The Family, Just Know That You Are On My Mind!

  • JR April 5, 2013 (8:58 pm)

    Where’s Dexter when you need him!? The world has no use for people like Juan Carlos Garcia-Mendez.
    Speedy recovery, Rick! You’ve got WS pulling for you!

  • Rvesdocs April 5, 2013 (9:17 pm)

    I’m so sorry to hear this sad news, and thoughts and prayers go out to this 27 year old gentleman and his family!!!!

  • Eric April 6, 2013 (5:54 am)

    JS, let’s not kid ourselves about a gun being a “tool” like a hammer or screwdriver. A gun is a weapon. Unlike a car which the primary use is to get from point A to point B, and in the wrong hands can kill or injure someone, a gun’s primary use and design is to either kill/injure, or intimidate another with being killed or injured. Let’s not stretch the “truth” with NRA definitions and “reasoning”.
    Just so there’s no confusion on my stance, I own/carry a gun with a concealed weapon’s permit, but let’s at least call it what it is.
    Though I do agree about the level of violence that is tolerated within the media, movies, and gaming. It seems that a rated “R” movie gets that rating more for language than violence. Though this thread is probably not the best for an in depth discussion on this issue.

  • Eric April 6, 2013 (5:58 am)

    I’m sorry this happened Rendee. I hoping for a speedy recovery for Rick and for your family.

  • Glenn April 6, 2013 (9:20 am)

    I have known Rick for a few years, and can testify that he is truly a quality human being. The outpourings of support written here and other places online are just more evidence of this. He has always been humble, respectful of other people, and kind.

    I remember one time a few years ago, when Rick and I were part of a group of people that witnessed a very vicious attack. When it ended, the huge and physically intimidating assailant was standing over the unconscious body of his victim, challenging anyone and everyone else in the area to keep fighting. Without a moment’s hesitation, Rick and another man walked up to the scene, pausing to tell the aggressor that they were only there to check on the wounded man’s status. In the presence of this danger, they called 911 and watched over the victim until police and an ambulance arrived. This seemed very courageous to me, since they were obviously at risk of angering the belligerent man and becoming his next victims.

    I am intentionally keeping the details vague, because I don’t know if these stories are really mine to share. The kind of guy he is, it is likely Rick would be embarrassed to be praised for doing what he probably felt was the only thing he could do. I almost didn’t post at all, but in the end decided that I had to do so. Over the few years I have known him, I have personally witnessed him help dozens of people through their own personal crises, and now that he is the one in need, it is important that all of us be there to support him.

  • Kelly April 6, 2013 (10:28 am)

    Um. How did a convicted felon get a gun in < 4 days from being released from prison?

    Whoever gave/sold this gun was complicit in the crime as well. I hope that's being investigated.

  • Ace20604 April 6, 2013 (4:07 pm)

    The assailant could finish the coup de grace had Mr. Powell not defended himself. Resistance is the course against attack. Hope DOC launched an immediate warrant upon failure to check in. Home invasion must equal very little time. violent offenders really don’t change that often.

  • Brad April 6, 2013 (5:58 pm)

    This POS obiously has no respect for the law so why would anyone be suprised if he would have pulled the trigger even if Powell had not had a gun? He was going back to jail just for being there, not to mention for having an illegal gun, and committing armed robbery. He had more to lose by NOT pulling the trigger. Cameras and police are all great after the fact, but when you need help immediately, this is why we have CCPs. I wish Rick a speedy recovery and next time, fire first.

  • Eric April 7, 2013 (4:27 am)

    Kelly: Um. How did a convicted felon get a gun in < 4 days from being released from prison?

    Whoever gave/sold this gun was complicit in the crime as well. I hope that's being investigated.

    Eric: A felon getting a gun is easy. You just have to know the right (wrong) people. As far as investigating who gave him the gun, that's probably not going to be investigated. Under current law (and I don't see Congress changing this anytime soon) the ATF is prohibited from forming a federal registry for firearms, essentially pulling the teeth of the ATF. They cannot even have a central database to keep track of legally purchased firearms, much less illegally aquired firearms. I doubt more local law enforcement would spend the resources and time to invesigate into it. It’ll probably be just locked up in the evidence room.

  • xmen April 7, 2013 (7:09 am)

    God bless Rick! Using his power for good!

  • Gary April 8, 2013 (11:35 pm)

    Eric: The ATF can (and does) track the firearm to the original dealer/gunshop through the manufacturer. The dealer/gunshop keeps records of all gun sales, as required by law. So law enforcement can find the original owner. The problem is that the gun is most likely stolen, so a gun registry would be useless in these cases.

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