Prosecutors file firearm charge against man suspected in Kent's Devin Topps killing

Devin Topps, left, who played basketball and football at Kentridge High School, was shot to death Oct. 31 in Kent. Kent Police have a suspect in custody in the shooting death. - Charles Cortes, Kent Reporter
Devin Topps, left, who played basketball and football at Kentridge High School, was shot to death Oct. 31 in Kent. Kent Police have a suspect in custody in the shooting death.
— image credit: Charles Cortes, Kent Reporter

A 20-year-old man, who Kent Police are investigating in connection with the shooting death of former Kentridge High school standout Devin Topps, was charged Dec. 23 by King County prosecutors with first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Jorge Luis Lizarraga, who had been living in a Des Moines motel over the last few weeks, remained Dec. 27 in the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center jail in lieu of $750,000 bail.

Prosecutors requested the high bail because Lizarraga is a suspect in the Oct. 31 killing of Topps, 18. Prosecutors are expected to file a formal murder charge against Lizarraga later this week, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Lizarraga has more than 15 convictions, including six felonies, according to charging papers in connection with the firearm case. The felony convictions include residential burglary in 2008, for which he received a 13-month sentence; first-degree possession of stolen property in 2007; taking a motor vehicle in 2007; and residential burglary in 2007.

Kent Police took Lizarraga into custody Dec. 21 after he was tracked down at a SeaTac 7-Eleven store at South 194th Street and International Boulevard.

Kent detectives received a tip Dec. 21 that Lizarraga was staying at the King's Arm Motel, 23226 30th Ave. S., in Des Moines and allegedly had a handgun that he kept in the room, according to charging papers.

Detectives arrived at the motel and identified and followed two cars leaving the area. One of those cars was stopped a short time later without incident. When detectives attempted to stop the second car, the driver sped into a nearby residential neighborhood before abandoning the vehicle.

Police surrounded the area and while searching for the vehicle's two occupants, saw another car driving away quickly. When they tried to stop that car, officers saw a passenger jump out and run away.

A Kent Police K-9 team was called in to assist. It was during that search that an detective driving through the area noticed a man crossing a parking lot a short distance away. That man, wearing only a T-shirt and jeans, was contacted and eventually identified as Lizarraga.

Lizarraga invoked his right to an attorney and did not speak to detectives.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for the motel room and found a Heckler & Koch .40-caliber handgun. Detectives later learned the handgun had been reported stolen from a residential burglary and was a Washington State Patrol service handgun.

Police also found in the motel room a Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun, multiple boxes of 9 mm and .40-caliber ammunition and what appeared to be stolen property, including televisions and other electronic devices.

Topps had signed a letter of intent to play football in 2010 for Eastern Washington University. He didn't enroll at the school, due to grades.

According to police reports, Topps had gotten into a scuffle Oct. 31 with a group of people outside of a Halloween house party in Kent.

Topps was shot in the back, and managed to drag himself back to his truck parked nearby, where he collapsed. Responding emergency crews were unable to revive him.

In addition to the murder charge, Lizarraga is under investigation by Kent Police for fourth-degree assault against a girlfriend who was staying with him at the Des Moines motel. He also is under investigation by several other jurisdictions for offenses ranging from burglary to assault.

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