Kent Police arrest four gang members in connection with car-show shooting

Kent Police arrested four gang members and issued warrants for two other men in connection with the July 23 shooting at a West Hill car show that injured 12 people.

Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas gives an update at a press conference Thursday

Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas gives an update at a press conference Thursday

Kent Police arrested four gang members and issued warrants for two other men in connection with the July 23 shooting at a West Hill car show that injured 12 people.

Thirty-five officers on five teams from several agencies made arrests Tuesday and Wednesday, said Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas at a press conference Thursday at the La Plaza strip mall, 23311 Pacific Highway S., the site of the shooting.

“We believe there were a total of at least five shooters,” Thomas said. “We expect additional arrests in the near future.”

King County prosecutors charged the six men this week in connection with the shooting. The four in custody are scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 29 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

“All of the arrests have gone without incident,” Thomas said. “We are trying to track down additional suspects, including two additional shooters. It is an ongoing investigation.”

Kent Police and other agencies were looking to find an additional car-show shooting suspect Wednesday evening at an apartment complex at Military Road South and South 288th Street but did not find the man they were searching for, said Kent Police Lt. Pat Lowery.

All of the suspects have gang ties, Thomas said. The four arrested and six charged are part of the Playboy Surenos gang.

The four arrested and their charges are:

• Martin T. McSmith, 21, of SeaTac, charged with first-degree assault for firing shots that injured people at the car show. Bail set at $750,000.

• James Lopez Jr., 17, of Seattle, charged with drive-by shooting for driving a vehicle that carried another gang member who fired shots. Bail set at $250,000.

• Patrick A. Auble, 30, of Tacoma, charged with rendering criminal assistance for helping to hide a vehicle or gun connected with the shooting. Bail set at $100,000.

• Shea C. Auble, 21, of Auburn, and the brother of Patrick Auble, charged with rendering criminal assistance for helping to hide a vehicle or gun connected with the shooting. Bail set at $100,000. Shea Auble is the same man who was a victim in a recent gang-related attack by another inmate at county jail at the Regional Justice Center. Anthony Archuleta, 20, of Auburn, has been charged with first-degree assault in that case.

Police have issued warrants for the following two men:

• Ignacio Trevino-Vasquez, 19, of Federal Way, and Nicholas Moreno, 21, of Auburn, who are each wanted for first-degree assault for firing shots that injured people at the car show.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg praised the police work in a statement he released about the arrests and charges against the men.

“Detectives navigated a sea of chaos at the crime scene, hostile and uncooperative witnesses and victims and a tangled web of gang hostilities to build a solid case against these individuals,” Satterberg said.

Twelve people were injured at the lowrider car show attended by about 250 people. Another person was injured later that night in a retaliatory shooting at a Kent East Hill apartment. Of the 13 victims, seven were gang members, Thomas said. None of the injuries were life threatening.

Detectives and crime analysts from 14 local, county, state and federal agencies are part of the shooting investigation. They interviewed more than 150 people, reviewed hundreds of hours of video and still images and analyzed records from more than 70 cellphones.

“The initial success is due to the cooperation of regional partners and the assistance Kent received from local, federal and state partners,” Thomas said.

Thomas explained at the press conference what police believed happened at the car show.

First of all, the property managers, the city of Kent and Kent Police were not made aware that the car show and rap concert were lined up for that day. A business at the strip mall that helped organize the show has since been evicted from the complex by the property managers for setting up the show without any notice. The group also was required to get a city permit for the show, but did not even seek a permit.

At the show, rappers in a band started to make comments to the crowd to “show your flags,” Thomas said. That’s a term for gang members to flash gang signs.

“Members started to show signs, which led to verbal arguments, physical altercations and then turned into a shooting,” Thomas said.

Detectives are pursuing potential arrests of band members as part of the ongoing investigation.

Cellphone calls were made shortly after the fight broke out and additional gang members showed up at the event.

When police arrived, gang members had fled the scene. The followup investigation proved difficult and took time because many gang members did not want to cooperate with police and other witnesses feared what might happen to them if they cooperated, Thomas said.

“We know of at least three gangs that were involved in the fight and shooting,” Thomas said.

The gangs have subsets and conflict develops among the gang members that leads to violence, Lowery said. Some of the tensions released at the car show shooting could have been simmering over a long period of time.


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