The gunman who fatally shot a homeless man who was a fixture in Seattle’s Ravenna Park was sentenced today to 10 years and three months in prison.
Timothy James Murray, 27, pleaded guilty in June to second-degree murder for killing Alpha Lake Rajai, 59, in the park on March 8, 2012. The shooting occurred after a confrontation involving Rajai, Murray and two other men.
According to charging papers, Murray was near the park’s tennis court with two friends about 3 a.m. when he told his friends that he wanted to “root” Rajai and a friend out of the park by scaring them with a gun. Murray led his friends to where Rajai was sitting and started yelling “Get down on the ground!” the papers said.
Rajai, armed with a stick or baseball bat, wouldn’t comply, and he tried to get the gun away from Murray, who shot him, the charging papers say. Rajai was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he died.
Murray was later arrested at a nearby apartment building.
Rajai, who some called “The Sentinel,” is remembered for keeping watch on Ravenna Park in the wee hours. Mary Whitfield passed him every morning as she ran through the park. He was always reading in a long, dark coat, his wide-brimmed hat on the bench beside him. He was never someone to be afraid of, despite standing an imposing 6-foot-3, she told Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur.
Days after the murder, a group of about 60 people gathered in the park to remember Rajai.
“This was a life choice,” attorney Ed Hemingway, who met Rajai through friends 31 years ago, told Brodeur. “Every day was his day. He lived in a beautiful place and kept a regular schedule.”