(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.