2 vehicles on I-5 hit by shots; no one hurt

Police unsure if attack was random


Herald Writer

EVERETT — Three people narrowly escaped injury Thursday when a gunman opened fire on their vehicles as they drove north on I-5 near the Marine View Drive exit.

"It certainly looks like direct fire," Washington State Patrol Trooper Dan Anderson said as he inspected the bullet hole in the rear of a Dodge Dakota Sport pickup, one of two vehicles hit by gunfire.

"Even an inch (higher) and (the bullet) certainly would have gone through the rear window and into the passenger compartment."

Detectives haven’t determined whether the shootings were planned or random. Detectives are asking the public’s help to identify the car and the three people involved in the attack.

Witnesses described the car driven by the attackers as a clean, red 1994 to 1997 four-door Pontiac Grand Am occupied by three black men who appeared to be in their 20s. The driver wore a kerchief around his head, Trooper Lance Ramsay said.

Milde Claxton and her daughter Jessica Cooper were on their way to the Stillaguamish Tribal Center in their pickup after picking up groceries in Everett.

"We heard boom! boom! boom!" Cooper said. "It sounded like backfires. It was really close."

From the passenger seat, she looked to her right and saw a silver Nissan leaving the freeway at Marine View Drive. To her left, she saw a yellow Cadillac ahead of them and a burgundy car behind it, she said.

"Then I noticed (the Cadillac) had a flat tire, so I told my mom to watch out," Cooper said. "We just stayed way back. Then the Cadillac started fishtailing. We were slowing down."

The Cadillac moved toward the right and stopped on the shoulder, she said.

Only after the women reached the tribal center and started to unload the groceries did they see the bullet that entered at the base of the canopy opening and embedded itself in the top of the tailgate.

"I said, ‘Oh, my God!’ " Cooper said. "Earlier I was shaken up. My eyes were watering a little bit, and I thought, ‘My God! We could have been splattered!"

The Cadillac, driven by a 37-year-old Everett man, was struck by at least two bullets, Sgt. Barry Bartram said. At least one bullet struck the fuel tank, causing the gasoline to drain out, and one bullet flattened the tire.

The Cadillac driver heard a "pop! pop! pop!" Ramsay said. The man pulled to the side because of the flat tire and called a tow truck. When the tow arrived, he realized that the car had been shot, Ramsay said.

Investigators can’t say whether the Cadillac was targeted and the truck was in the line of fire, or whether both vehicles were shot at random, Anderson said.

Detectives ask anyone with information to call 425-339-1700.

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