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August 21, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Suspect in Kent slayings once threatened driver with handgun

Update at 3:59 p.m.: One of the victims of Wednesday’s double homicide in Kent was identified Thursday as David Christianson, 52. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has classified his death as a homicide.

Ariff Gulamani, the owner of the Kent gas station/Wendy’s, said Christianson was the manager of the store and had worked for him for about 12 years.

The second victim was not identified.

Update at 3:09 p.m.: According to a probable-cause statement released Thursday afternoon, suspect Leland Russell Jr. told police he shot the victims.

Russell told police that “construction workers” at the gas station had directed racial slurs at him and a companion, according to the statement, which outlines the police case. He said he got into an argument with the construction workers, and employees of the gas station also became involved, the document says.

In the statement, Russell is described as Hispanic.

Russell is seen on surveillance video retrieving a handgun from a black Cadillac and opening fire at the victims at close range, police write in the document.

Russell told police the fight that led to the shooting was over “disrespect,” according to the probable-cause statement.

Update at 3:03 p.m.: Kent police have released the following statement:

Kent Police Detectives arrested Leland D. Russell as the gunman involved in yesterday’s double homicide in Kent.

Information at this time indicates that there was only one shooter in this incident.  Detectives have identified the second subject who was at the scene and are actively looking for him, and he is wanted for questioning.  At this time we are not releasing his name and we continue to investigate his involvement.

The vehicle that was used during the incident has been seized by Detectives and is being processed for potential evidence.

Leland Russell was booked into the King County Detention Facility and is expected to have a court appearance this afternoon.

Kent Detectives continue to actively investigate all leads associated to this case.

Update at 2:46 p.m.: A judge on Thursday afternoon set bail at $2 million for the man accused of killing two men at a Kent gas station.

King County District Court Judge Arthur Chapman found probable cause to hold Leland Russell Jr. on two counts of investigation of murder. Russell waived his appearance at the King County Jail courtroom.

Update at 2:30 p.m.: Kent police Cmdr. Jarod Kasner said they have identified, and are “actively seeking,” a second suspect but that no arrest has been made.

He said the man already in custody is “thought to be the only shooter.”

Original post: The 29-year-old man jailed for allegedly shooting two employees of a Kent gas station was arrested in June 2012 after he threatened a driver with a handgun after a traffic accident in Burien, according to court documents.

The man was driving a Dodge Ram pickup that rear-ended a red Jeep Cherokee as it was turning left onto South 128th Street from Ambaum Boulevard South, the documents say. When the Jeep driver got out to confront the other driver, the man in the pickup pulled out a black semi-automatic handgun and ordered Jeep driver to “back up,” the charges said.

The Dodge driver identified himself to the Jeep driver and passenger before driving off, according to the charges. (The Times is not naming the man because he has not been charged in connection with the Kent homicides, nor has he appeared before a judge.)

The Jeep driver followed the Dodge to get a license-plate number. At one point, the Dodge driver turned around and drove past the Jeep. He pointed a handgun in the air and fired two shots, charging documents said.

King County prosecutors charged the pickup driver with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and hit-and-run. He pleaded guilty to hit-and-run and was given a 90-day suspended jail sentence and ordered to participate in 60 hours of community service.

The charging documents do not say whether the driver had a weapons permit.

In 2002, when he was 17, the man was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl near a cabin in Index, in Snohomish County. According to court records, a jury acquitted him of second-degree rape in 2006.

The man is being held on investigation of two counts of homicide in connection with Wednesday’s shootings in Kent. He is scheduled to appear in King County District Court this afternoon for a bail hearing.

Kent police Cmdr. Jarod Kasner said investigators questioned a second man for several hours Wednesday, but released him. Kasner didn’t rule out the possibility of additional arrests.


Suspect jailed in Kent gas station double homicide

Why didn’t the Kent shooting story mention race?

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: hit and run, Kent homicides, shooting


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