A 19-year-old Seattle man faces a first-degree murder charge for allegedly shooting a 29-year-old Kent man outside of the Central Avenue Pub.
Rogelle M. Harris is accused of killing Bobby E. Rodgers at about 2 a.m. on July 2 during a drive-by shooting into a crowd of people outside the bar, 1404 Central Ave. S., according to charging papers filed Aug. 26 by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Rodgers died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Harris is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 8 at the King County Courthouse in Seattle. Harris remains in the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle without bail because he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, according to court documents.
“In this case, the defendant was captured on multiple video cameras shooting a .45 caliber handgun numerous times from a vehicle into a crowd outside of a nightclub in Kent around closing time,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Aubony Burns in charging papers. “It was fortunate only one person suffered fatal injuries from the defendant’s extreme indifference to human life and willingness to spray bullets into a crowd that night.”
Prosecutors also charged Harris with first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm because of previous convictions for second-degree assault and drive-by shooting, each in 2020.
In a separate case, Harris faces three counts of first-degree robbery for allegedly being one of three men with guns who robbed seven people on July 27 in the 600 block of South Weller Street in Seattle’s International District, according to charging papers. The victims were playing mahjong, a tile-based game, inside a building when they were robbed of cash and other items.
Harris pleaded not guilty Aug. 29 to the robbery charges. Seattle Police arrested Harris Aug. 16 for his reported involvement in the robberies. He was in custody when charged with murder in the Kent case.
Pub shooting details
The owner of the Central Avenue Pub and a regular disc jockey (DJ) celebrated their birthday together starting July 1 at the bar and invited approximately 5,000 friends and associates via social media, according to court documents.
Rodgers was a close friend of the two and a regular patron at the bar. Four security guards were hired by the pub in anticipation of a large crowd. The pub has a maximum capacity of 117 people.
Once the pub filled up, security asked customers to line up along the covered outdoor sidewalk, south of the front door.
As the party went on, the number of guests increased. The pub parking lot and surrounding business and residential parking lots filled up. Party guests socialized in the parking lots and along Alder Lane. That led to several 911 calls about parking and noise complaints.
Kent Police responded to the calls and at about 1:34 a.m. several officers drove past the pub and through the parking lot in anticipation of the 2 a.m. closing. Officers staged across Central Avenue South.
At about 1:52 a.m., an officer noted a large crowd of people formed outside the main doors to the pub. The officer then heard gunfire and noticed a silver Honda CRV turning north on Central Avenue from westbound Alder Lane. The officer saw a man hanging out the rear driver side window who fired shots toward the crowd, according to charging papers.
The driver of the Honda CRV fled before police could catch it.
More officers arrived at the pub as people were fleeing on foot and speeding away in their cars. Several patrons pointed out Rodgers who was lying on the ground, near the pub’s front doors.
Paramedics transported Rodgers to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he later died from the gunshot wound.
At about 2:21 a.m., police received a call from Valley Medical Center in Renton about another gunshot victim at the pub. Officers interviewed a man who suffered a gunshot wound to his neck and the back of his left shoulder blade.
The man told police he was just trying to get to his vehicle in the pub parking lot when he was hit by a stray bullet. He said he did not see who was shooting or know any additional details.
Detectives found seven spent .45 caliber cartridge casings at the intersection of Central Avenue South and Alder Lane South, near where the officer had seen shots fired from the Honda CRV. A second grouping of 9mm spent cartridge casings were located south of Alder Lane in the pub parking lot. A third grouping of 9mm spent cartridge casings also were found in the parking lot.
Several vehicles and building windows were struck by bullets. A woman’s vehicle had a bullet through the windshield. She said she was standing outside her driver’s door when the vehicle was hit.
Detectives collected and reviewed video surveillance footage from three businesses and a church in the area. The videos allowed them to see the Honda CRV in the area and the man who fired the shots, according to charging documents.
From video and witness reports, a fight broke out in the parking lot just prior to the shooting. One man pulled out a firearm.
During this altercation, Rodgers ran out of the pub’s north emergency exit and into the parking lot towards the altercation.
Harris reportedly was outside the bar before the shooting and engaged in a heated conversation with another man. Harris is then escorted away by a woman prior to getting into the Honda CRV, according to court documents. A couple of minutes later, shots were fired from the Honda toward the crowd.
Two men fired shots from the parking lot at the Honda, which already had left the scene. Detectives noted those shots were in the area of where they found two groups of 9mm cartridge casings.
On July 13, police received a tip from a person who was at the pub the night of the shooting. That tip led detectives to Harris, according to charging papers.
Detectives searched the Seattle townhouse where Harris lived and found pair of Nike shoes with the colors that matched what the shooter was wearing on July 2, according to charging papers. Detectives also found social media images of Harris wearing the same shoes in August.
Detectives interviewed Harris after his Aug. 16 arrest. He admitted going to a birthday party one evening at the Central Avenue Pub. He also admitted to being the one in the white sweatshirt that had unique lettering.
Harris, however, denied firing shots that night. When asked by detectives if he knew he shot and killed a man, Harris replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” according to charging papers.