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November 25, 2013 at 4:58 PM
The Associated Press
LAKEWOOD, Pierce County — Police say a 29-year-old man wanted in connection with a 2012 homicide has been arrested after a police pursuit.
Lt. Chris Lawler says Jiffary Alexander Mendez was driving a stolen vehicle Sunday and led police on a chase. Mendez sped off but officers caught up with him when the car broke down. Mendez had an outstanding warrant for murder when police took him into custody Sunday.
The News Tribune of Tacoma says Mendez pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday in Pierce County Superior Court. He was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Mendez is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and first-degree robbery in the death of Jaime Diaz-Solis.
Diaz-Solis was gunned down at a Lakewood apartment Nov. 12, 2012. Prosecutors contend Mendez and four others conspired to kill Diaz-Solis’ roommate and cousin, who they believed was a rival drug dealer but shot Diaz-Solis instead.
The four other men have been arrested and pleaded not guilty.
October 30, 2013 at 11:42 AM
LAKEWOOD, Pierce County (AP) — Neighbors say the older couple killed in an apartment fire in Washington were a woman who was ill and her husband, who originally escaped the flames but went back in to save her.
The blaze happened about 1 a.m. Wednesday in Lakewood.
Neighbors say the woman had been sick and was unable to move around. They told reporters at the scene the man had escaped the flames but went back inside.
West Pierce Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Hallie McCurdy says arriving firefighters quickly knocked down the flames and found the bodies.
McCurdy says the fire started in the apartment’s living room but the exact cause hasn’t been determined.
The Red Cross is helping a half-dozen residents in other apartments that had smoke damage.
October 7, 2013 at 10:03 AM
UPDATE 1:30 P.M.| Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said the three suspects arrested in connection with the Saturday fatal stabbing of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier are expected to be charged and make an initial court appearance Tuesday.
Prosecutors are still reviewing information in the case, but Lindquist said there’s a clear indication “there was only one individual who stabbed the victim.”
The roles of the other two men arrested in the case are not clear, Lindquist said. Prosecutors need to know more about what the two other men did before they can decide on the appropriate charge, Lindquist said. All three were booked into the Pierce County Jail early Monday.
Previous post:| Three suspects, all soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, were booked into the Pierce County Jail early this morning on investigation of murder in connection with Saturday’s fatal stabbing of a fellow soldier from the base.
Lakewood police said one of the suspects is 23 and two are 21.
The victim was identified Sunday as Spc. Tevin Geike, 20, of Summerville, S.C., an aviation operations specialist and a member of the 7th Infantry Division. He entered the Army in October 2010 and arrived at JBLM in April 2011.
In a news release, Lakewood police said that race is not believed to be a factor in the attack. Over the weekend, police had said they were investigating the case as a possible hate crime.
Police say the 23-year-old suspect is believed to have stabbed Geike, and his motives are not known.
On Sunday, police had said Geike’s companions told police the assailant had been in a car in which someone had yelled something about Geike and his companions being white.
In a news release this morning, Lakewood police said the arrests came after they were contacted Sunday afternoon by an Army sergeant who said he had information on the stabbing.
The sergeant said another soldier had been asked by the 23-year-old suspect for first aid for a knife wound on his right hand. The man allegedly said he had injured himself when he fatally stabbed someone.
Later, that suspect told the soldier he had cut his hand while chopping vegetables. And after the sergeant took the 23-year-old to Madigan Army Medical Center for treatment, he told hospital staffers he had cut his hand on a parachute cord, police said.
Separately, another person believed to be involved in the attack was brought in by police for an interview. He told detectives that he was in a vehicle with four of his friends driving on Pacific Highway when words were exchanged between men on the street and the people in the car, police said.
He said they stopped to talk to the victims, but nothing happened once they discovered they were all active duty soldiers.
But as the suspects were walking back to their car, the soldier said the 23-year-old suspect appeared to “bear hug” the victim and pushed him to the ground. That suspect was covered in blood when he got to the car, the soldier told police.
October 5, 2013 at 2:11 PM
A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier was stabbed to death in Lakewood, Pierce County, early this morning in what police described as a racially tinged confrontation.
The Lakewood Police Department reported that the man, 20, and two other active-duty soldiers were walking at 2:38 a.m. in the 12500 block of Pacific Highway Southwest when someone in a vehicle reportedly yelled something about the soldiers being white.
When one of the soldiers yelled back a comment about treating combat soldiers with disrespect, the car turned around and stopped next to them in a parking lot in the largely industrial area. Five men climbed out of the car and surrounded the soldiers as the verbal confrontation continued, according to the account provided to police by the victim’s friends.
When the driver determined the men were actually soldiers, he summoned his passengers back to the car. As they left, one appeared to bump a soldier, who fell to the ground as the car sped away.
“It was then that they discovered the victim had been stabbed and was bleeding profusely. The victim died at the scene,” according to a statement issued by police Lt. Chris Lawler.
Police and an emergency medical crew were called to the parking lot along Pacific Highway where the victim fell.
The suspects’ vehicle was described as a midnight-blue sedan similar to a BMW or Volkswagen Jetta, with tinted windows, stock rims and low-profile tires.
Descriptions were provided of four of the suspects, all reportedly black men believed to be in their early- to mid-20s.
The primary suspect was described as 6 foot 1, of medium build, wearing a blue zip-up hoodie. The driver was described as 5 foot 7, with short-cropped hair and wearing a shirt with horizontal blue and white stripes.
Two others were about 5 foot 7, one with short hair and a gray tank top, the other with camouflage pants possibly designed for paintball. There was no description of the fifth suspect.
The Police Department has asked that anyone with information about the incident, the suspects or the vehicle to call 253-798-4721.
September 27, 2013 at 6:19 PM
The body of a missing 66-year-old hiker was found Friday in Mount Rainier National Park by rangers and volunteers after an overnight search on Pinnacle Peak, a news release said.
The man, George Merriam, of Lakewood, had been reported missing by his wife Thursday night. He was spotted from a search helicopter around 8:30 a.m. lying in “steep terrain more than 200 feet below the trail,” according to the release. It took crews, including volunteers from Olympic, Seattle and Everett Mountain Rescue units and a helicopter from Northwest Helicopters of Olympia, about seven hours to get to him and recover his body, the release said.
Merriam’s family was notified today.
July 15, 2013 at 10:31 AM
LAKEWOOD, Pierce County (AP) — A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier just back from Afghanistan helped rescue neighbors in an apartment fire in Lakewood.
Ranger Marcus Taylor told KOMO he heard kids screaming and car horns about 4 a.m. Monday and looked out his window to see flames at a nearby apartment building.
He rushed over and was told someone was still on the top floor of the two-story building. Taylor says he heard rustling and kicked in a sliding glass door. He told residents to come to the sound of his voice.
Taylor was treated for cuts to his right leg from the breaking glass. A woman from the building was treated for smoke inhalation, but everyone got out OK.
Four units were destroyed or heavily damaged. Nineteen people were displaced by the fire.
June 24, 2013 at 4:54 PM
Prosecutors on Monday charged three men in connection to a November 2012 homicide at a Lakewood apartment complex, officials said.
William Alvarez, 26, Mazzar Robinson, 41, and Robert Leon Smith, 33, were charged with murder in the first degree, attempted robbery in the first degree, burglary in the first degree and unlawful possession of a firearm, according to a news release from the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
The men are allegedly part of a Mexican drug cartel, along with the victim Jamie Diaz-Solis and his roommate, Juan Hidalgo-Mendoza – who was apparently the actual target, according to the release.
“Foreign drug cartels bring in violence as well as drugs,” Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in the release. “Lakewood Police and DEA worked collaboratively to solve this drug-related murder.”
Alvarez allegedly told investigators that he arranged for the men to kill Hidalgo-Mendoza as part of a plan to rise in the ranks in the cartel’s distribution chain, according to prosecutor’s office. But the alleged shooter, Robinson, got Diaz-Solis instead.
The men then ran from the scene, according to the release.
Police who responded to the Lakewood’s apartment complex found the body of Diaz-Solis, surrounded by almost eight pounds of heroin and $37,000 in cash.
Hidalgo-Mendoza has already been sentenced to 15 years to life for drug charges.
On Monday, a judge set bail at $5 million for Robinson, $1.5 million for Alvarez and $1 million for Smith.
June 19, 2013 at 6:33 AM
LAKEWOOD, Pierce County (AP) — Lakewood police shot and killed a man in a confrontation Tuesday night at a duplex in the Tillicum area.
Lakewood police Lt. Jeff Alwine says officers went to a duplex looking for a man wanted on an arrest warrant accusing him of felony theft.
Alwine says two officers saw the 28-year-old Lakewood man through a broken window holding a gun. He refused commands to drop the gun and come out.
Alwine says he did something threatening that caused the officers to fire. He died at the scene.
June 5, 2013 at 10:24 PM
A Homeland Security special agent was hospitalized Wednesday night after a fleeing suspect’s vehicle struck him in the leg. After being hit, the agent shot the suspect, who was also hospitalized, according to the Lakewood Police Department.
The Drug Enforcement Administration was leading a narcotics investigation in Lakewood, Pierce County, at about 8 p.m. when task-force officers from several federal agencies pulled over the suspect at 108th Street Southwest and 47th Avenue Southwest. Once the stop was initiated, according to Lakewood police spokesman Lt. Chris Lawler, the suspect did not comply with agent commands and tried to flee the scene.
As he did, his car struck the Homeland Security agent in the leg. That agent shot the suspect and hit him. Lawler said the suspect was taken to a nearby hospital, but did not know his condition.
The Homeland Security agent, whose name has not been released, was cleared to leave the hospital later that night.
Other agencies involved in the investigation include the Lakewood Police Special Operations Unit, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcements (ICE), and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
DEA spokeswoman Jodie Underwood said of the task force operation that “the situation is fluid in an on-going investigation,” but would release no additional details Wednesday night.
Lawler said the Lakewood Police Department Major Crimes Unit will be investigating the shooting.
May 16, 2013 at 7:55 PM
A 47-year-old man suffered life-threatening injuries in a fight during a pool game at a Lakewood bar Wednesday night, according to police.
The man, whom authorities are not identifying, apparently was playing pool in the “Last Call” bar at about 11:30 p.m. when he bumped into another man playing pool nearby, Lakewood police spokesman Chris Lawler wrote in a news release. Then the other player allegedly punched the victim, who fell and struck his head on the floor.
The victim immediately lost consciousness, Lawler wrote. Police are looking for the man who punched him. He apparently fled the scene, the release says.
They are looking at surveillance video but are also asking citizens for help locating the man, described as a Native American in his 30s, roughly 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds with long black hair worn in two braids.
He was wearing a long sleeved white T-shirt and khaki pants at the time of the assault, police said.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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