Kent Police, relatives of murder victim seek public’s help to solve crime

Debbie Hernandez trembled as she sat down Friday afternoon at Kent City Hall in front of television cameras to ask the public to help solve the murder of her brother-in-law.

Debbie Hernandez fights through tears at a press conference Friday

Debbie Hernandez fights through tears at a press conference Friday

Debbie Hernandez trembled as she sat down Friday afternoon at Kent City Hall in front of television cameras to ask the public to help solve the murder of her brother-in-law.

Kent Police called the press conference because detectives have no significant leads or suspects in the shooting death of Arnulfo Gomez-Vazquez, 27. He was shot on the night of Aug. 19 outside of his apartment at the Somerset Apartments, 10900 S.E. 255th Pl., on the East Hill.

“Please come forward if you know anything, if you saw something small that you don’t think is relevant, I’m sure that it might put a piece of the puzzle together,” Hernandez said. “We want closure. This is very hard on our family. His sister is very distraught. So please, I’m asking from the bottom of our heart please come forward with anything that you might possibly know so we can solve this and go on with our lives.”

Gomez-Vazquez died of a single gunshot wound shortly after being shot. He answered a knock at his apartment door, stepped outside, closed the door behind him and had a short conversation, said Kent Police Lt. Pat Lowery.

Just a minute or so later, Gomez-Vazquez was shot and killed.

“We’ve come to a point where we realize the public is our best option,” Lowery said about the reason for the press conference. “We hope the public has information they can share with us that will move the investigation forward. The suspect is unknown as is the motivation.”

Lowery said it is not a gang-related shooting. He also added it is not a random crime because they believe Gomez-Vazquez knew whoever was outside his door.

“By all accounts he was hard working,” Lowery said. “He was in the landscape trade. He worked six days a week. It does not appear that he had any persons with a grudge against him.”

Gomez-Vazquez moved to Kent from Mexico about four years ago, according to Hernandez. He worked here to support his wife and two children, a daughter, 10, and son, 3, who remained in Mexico.

“We’ve looked at friends, families and coworkers and there is nothing to lead us to a suspect,” Lowery said. “We’ve looked at possibilities and there are no leads on any types of threats. And there is nothing to indicate any other criminal motivation (such as robbery).”

Lowery said it is unusual for police to hold a press conference so soon in a murder investigation.

“Part of the motivation is he was a true victim who did not bring any trouble to himself,” Lowery said. “We want to try to understand the death and hope someone will do the right thing (and come forward with information).”

Hernandez appeared at the press conference with her husband, Felipe Gomez-Vazquez, the brother of the victim. Hernandez also spoke for her husband, who she said does not know much English.

“The frustration level is very high,” Hernandez said about the lack of leads in the case. “This was my brother-in-law, his brother and there’s no answers. Nobody knows nothing. Our family is ripped apart because we don’t understand why somebody took Arnulfo from us.”

Hernandez said her brother-in-law lived with another brother and sister in the Somerset Apartments. Hernandez and her husband live in the same complex. They received a phone call from the victim’s sister shortly after the shooting.

“His sister was hysterical over the phone,” Hernandez said. “We got to the apartment and his sister was hysterical and screaming Arnulfo was dead. I was scared and shaking.

“I walked outside the front door of the apartment and he was on the sidewalk. I called 911 and they asked me to make sure he did not have a pulse. There was no pulse. He was dead by the time we got to the apartment.”

Hernandez enjoyed the time she had with her brother-in-law.

“He was a person you could count on in a time of need,” she said. “If you needed to cry, he had a big shoulder. He was all about the family. He was the kind of guy you would want as a brother-in-law. He didn’t run with bad people. He ran with good people. He was a good person. He wasn’t perfect, but nobody is.”

By coming forward to talk about the case, Hernandez hopes the murder can be solved.

“We just want answers and need closure,” she said. “We need to find out why. And whoever did this needs to be held accountable and tell us why he felt it was so important to take our brother from us.”


Anyone with information about the murder of Arnulfo Gomez-Vazquez can call Puget Sound Crime Stoppers at 1-800-CRIME13 and be eligible for up to $1,000 for tips that helps solve the case. People also can call the Kent Police Tip Line at 253-856-5808.

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