Puloka charged with three murders, two assaults in Des Moines shooting | Update

Judge orders Puloka to be held without bail; shooting Sept. 26 outside bar

A 44-year-old SeaTac has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault for allegedly shooting five people on Sept. 26 outside a Des Moines bar.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed the charges Oct. 27 against Joshua Puloka, aka Joshua Everybodytalksabout. He faces a firearm enhancement with each charge and a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm because of previous felony convictions.

At a court hearing Oct. 28, a King County Superior Court judge ordered Puloka to be held without bail, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

At Puloka’s first court appearance Oct. 26, a judge decided to set bail at $1 million. Based on additional information discovered, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office asked for a higher bail because of the violent nature of the alleged crimes, according to an office spokesman.

The shooting victims were Ezra Taylor, 26; Antoine Matthews, 32; and Angelia Hylton, 46. Two other men were shot and injured at the La Familia Sports Bar, 22855 Pacific Highway S.

Puloka has convictions for second-degree assault in 1999 and first-degree manslaughter in 2003. If convicted of the Des Moines murder charges, he could face his third strike and receive a mandatory sentence of life in prison, according to charging documents. The crime of first-degree murder carries a maximum punishment of life in prison.

After Puloka’s first court appearance, prosecutors decided to charge him with first-degree murders rather than second-degree murders and added two first-degree assault charges.

“The defendant is on video in an altercation in the parking lot of La Familia Sports Bar,” Jennifer Petersen, senior deputy prosecuting attorney, wrote in charging documents. “The parking lot was crowded with patrons who had gathered after the bar closed. Victim Antoine Matthews swings one time at the defendant and the defendant falls backward.

“The defendant begins shooting as he falls. The defendant continues to shoot even as Matthews is running away. The defendant continues shooting his gun into the crowded parking lot striking multiple victims.”

Matthews was struck twice in the back. Hylton, an innocent bystander, was shot in the back. Taylor, an innocent bystander, was shot in the back of the head. Two others also were shot and one remains in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to charging papers.

Puloka has a history of shooting people. He pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in 1999 after he met up with a man to sell him two kilos of cocaine for $35,000. Puloka tried to rob the man instead and when the man ran away, Puloka fired five shots and killed him. He received a 95-month sentence in 2003.

Puloka was convicted of third-degree assault with a firearm enhancement in a 2014 shooting outside a Seattle bar. A jury acquitted him of a second-degree murder charge in the case when he claimed self-defense. He received a 54-month sentence.

Puloka has a lengthy list of juvenile convictions, including escape and robbery. He has 18 adult misdemeanor convictions and 25 juvenile misdemeanor convictions.

Detectives used video surveillance, cellphone video and witness statements that led to the arrest of Puloka. A dispute inside the bar spilled outside and led to fights in the parking lot and the shootings, according to charging documents. Police did not release any information about what caused the dispute.

A smaller group of people, including Puloka, ended up along Pacific Highway South, where fights continued and then shots were fired. Police recovered 31 cartridge casings from the scene. The Washington State Patrol crime lab and a forensic scientist concluded all the rounds recovered from the three people killed were from the same 9mm Luger firearm.

Puloka turned himself in Oct. 25 after Des Moines Police issued a media release that they were looking for him as a suspect in the shootings.

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