CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Bail set at $500,000 for suspect in hit-run death of Tommy Joe Garrett

(Victim’s photo, as displayed at April 27 vigil)

9:15 AM: Three and a half weeks after a hit-run driver killed 81-year-old Tommy Joe Garrett at 15th/Roxbury, the King County Sheriff’s Office has announced an arrest. Here’s the news release:

King County Sheriff’s Office Detectives have made an arrest in fatal pedestrian hit and run that occurred
in White Center on April 22, 2024. On April 22, 2024, just after 10 PM, an 81-year-old man was crossing SW Roxbury Street at 15th Ave SW when he was fatally struck by a vehicle in the hours of darkness. The vehicle did not stop and fled the scene. Detectives were able to identify the fleeing vehicle as a silver- colored Jeep Compass. Over the next few weeks KCSO Detectives continued checking the area

businesses and residences to trace the vehicle’s route pre and post collision. This eventually led them to identifying a vehicle license plate with a view of the driver, a lone 37-year-old male driver. With the help of the King County Metro Transit PD Street Crimes Detectives, the driver was arrested yesterday without incident on a traffic stop as he was leaving a home in the Puyallup area. He was eventually booked for investigation of the fatal hit and run into the King County Jail. The driver subsequently admitted that he moved the Jeep to Port Orchard, where he had it parked under a tarp at a family member’s residence. King County Sheriff’s Office Detectives have recovered the vehicle, and it was brought back to King County as evidence and for processing.

This case is still an active and open investigation. We are not naming the suspect as he has not been charged yet by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. We hope to have more information to release whenthe case has concluded.

We’re working to find out more and will update this story with additional details when we do.

4:20 PM: The suspect’s bail was set this afternoon at $500,000, as requested by prosecutors. He is being held for investigation of hit-run death. We checked his record; he was arrested for domestic violence 10 years ago, and the case was dismissed, but the charging documents noted he had numerous driving violations. The document from today’s hearing says the suspect lives in Puyallup and that the car belongs to his mother. The plate was traced through an image from the Westwood Village McDonald’s, recorded minutes before the crash.

26 Replies to "CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Bail set at $500,000 for suspect in hit-run death of Tommy Joe Garrett"

  • Ex-Westwood Resident May 17, 2024 (9:21 am)

    Charge the family member that allowed the vehicle to be hidden on his property with aiding and abetting, accessory to the crime, obstruction of justice and evidence tampering.

    The driver better be charged with felony hit and run, voluntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice.

    NO PLEA or reduction of charges accepted!!! 

    • Alki resident May 17, 2024 (10:43 am)

      There’s nothing that states the family members knew they were purposely hiding the vehicle. 

      • JDB May 17, 2024 (2:17 pm)

        Absolutely, Alki Res. There could be several cars hidden under tarps at my residence right now and I would have no clue. 

        • K May 17, 2024 (7:19 pm)

          Lots of people put tarps or other covers on their cars when they’re storing them.  It keeps rain, leaves, and other stuff off.  Let the cops sort out if the family members knew or not, sheesh.  Every time a blog commenter armchair investigates a crime like this, they’re basically accusing the cops of not doing being able or willing to investigate for themselves.

        • Alki resident May 17, 2024 (8:20 pm)

          Not sure you comprehended what my comment was about. It’s one thing to “ store” a car at a family member’s house but that doesn’t necessarily mean that family member knew a crime was committed and he’s hiding the car from police. 

  • Gill & Alex May 17, 2024 (10:02 am)

    We are very glad to hear of the arrest.  It won’t bring Tommy Joe Garrett back but help his family deal with his death knowing someone will be charged.   Nice job by all the police working together.

  • Mike May 17, 2024 (10:10 am)

    It’s not bringing Tommy back, but I hope this helps give the family a little peace and justice knowing the suspect is not roaming around still.

  • Insertname May 17, 2024 (10:56 am)

    I just don’t understand how someone can hit another person and flee the scene. These types of crimes are far too common these days. What also gets to me, is how they think they’ll never get caught. Anyway, just a sad situation. Being a pedestrian is frightening. Thanks to the detectives that worked hard to solve this case. Sending my thoughts and prayers to Mr. Garrett’s family. 

  • See this through for Tommy Joe May 17, 2024 (11:10 am)

    Tommy Joe didn’t deserve to lay on a street and pass this way. The driver went out of their way to take his life and deny Tommy Joe any care or dignity. The person that did this fled the scene instead of helping. And actively hid evidence/tools used for a crime with the help of family. I hope they are charged with felony obstruction of justice/evidence tampering. We need a law passed in Seattle that hit and runs are automatically classified as felony DUI if the driver is found. 

    • WSB May 17, 2024 (11:32 am)

      He’s being held for investigation of vehicular homicide, though that doesn’t necessarily guarantee what he will be charged with. The probable-cause hearing is this afternoon so we should have more information later today.

    • EJ May 17, 2024 (12:46 pm)

      How would one go about proving someone was intoxicated in such a circumstance? How do we know he wasn’t distracted by a cell phone, or that he was just driving recklessly? There’s no way to structure a law like that since a prosecutor would somehow have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the person was intoxicated.It sounds like he’ll be charged with vehicular homicide anyway (likely felony hit and run as well, rightfully so), so not sure what labeling it a DUI would even achieve. 

  • josh May 17, 2024 (11:15 am)

    Although he murdered someone with his car, fled the seen, and willfully tried to avoid being brought to justice you all will be disappointed when he is sentenced.  I bet he gets 10 years and serves 4.  Because when you murder someone with your car its not as bad as when you murder someone any other way, at least in the eyes of the law here in washington. 

    • wscommuter May 17, 2024 (5:09 pm)

      Vehicular homicide is treated differently than standard homicide in all 50 states.  You’re misinformed with your “gets 10 years and serves 4” statement.  Assuming this is a first offense, the standard range per the statute is that the judge will be required (by statute) to sentence him between 78-102 months (see SRA formula/sentencing grid).  If this is not a first offense – if this guy has other felony convictions, then the punishment range increases.  For that, he could earn up to 1/3 off his time (see statute).  If you don’t like that, your recourse is to talk to your state legislator about changing the law.  Folks are always upset that vehicular homicide punishments seem low.  This isn’t in the control of either judges or prosecutors.  It is a legislative matter.

      • Orb May 17, 2024 (11:59 pm)

        The monster who killed Robb Mason only got 3.5 years or 41 months. 

        • Sigh May 18, 2024 (5:31 pm)

          Was the 16-year-old who hit and killed Nicholas Wolf ever even charged?

    • RJ May 19, 2024 (6:08 am)

      Lucky if he gets 6 months and credit for time served. 

  • Dog Whisperer May 17, 2024 (12:22 pm)

    Thanks to the police for tracking down the driver. Good police work.

  • Lola May 17, 2024 (12:55 pm)

    He went to the trouble of hiding it with the help of a family member.  They are just a guilty as he is.  I know he will hardly get any jail time.  Good work on the Police with the help Of Metro.  Camera’s are everywhere now, don’t think you will get away with it if you do not stop.  

  • Tired of the BS May 17, 2024 (1:04 pm)

    Josh has it right, I think a lot will be disappointed with the outcome of this tragedy. Is it time to ban assault cars, restrict the amount of gas in the tank to 10 gallons?  Maybe it is time for more regulation to drive cars such as driver’s training, testing and licensing. Oh wait we do these things already.  I don’t mean to sound flip but all of this comes down to personal responsibility and unfortunately, his license will be reinstated and he’ll be back on the streets…

  • Tracy May 17, 2024 (3:51 pm)

    Rest in peace and power now, Mr. Garrett.  And condolences to your family.

  • WSB May 17, 2024 (4:31 pm)

    Updated with info from hearing.

  • Anne Helene May 17, 2024 (9:41 pm)

    Here is an example of why it needs to be illegal to have darkened plastic shield/frame over the license plates. The covers make it hard to read and difficult to identify when a crime occurs.

    • Arbor Heights Resident May 19, 2024 (9:22 am)

      I witnessed a hit and run on 167 last month, same deal: darkened plate made it impossible for me to report it to the police. Luckily nobody was hurt, but still: why are they legal?

  • 1994 May 17, 2024 (10:56 pm)

     Per WSB reporting:  The plate was traced through an image from the Westwood Village McDonald’s, recorded minutes before the crash.  Thank goodness for all the video cameras. Good to get this reckless guy off the road. Maybe he was eating & distracted driving can be tacked on to his charges…..

    • Pete May 18, 2024 (9:00 am)

      Good police work indeed

  • Admiral-2009 May 18, 2024 (10:38 pm)

    Fine police work, time to make the penalty for a hit and run driver much harsher.  The driver needs to pay all costs associated with the crime and then be put behind bars for a long long time!  There simply is no humanity in hitting someone and then not staying at the scene and trying to render assistance.  A harsh penalty is warranted.

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