TACOMA – A man accused of shooting six people at the Tacoma Mall was at first boastful and calm as he spoke to dispatchers, but as he held several people hostage for almost four hours, he became frightened and irritable, eventually breaking down in tears, 911 tapes reveal.
Dominick Sergio Maldonado, 20, who police said was armed with an assault rifle and a machine pistol, is being held on $2 million bail after pleading innocent to charges of assault, kidnapping and illegal firearms possession.
He will be arraigned Thursday on new and enhanced counts, based on interviews in the case, Pierce County deputy prosecutor Philip Sorenson said.
Maldonado’s attorney, Sverre Staurset, said he expects prosecutors to upgrade an assault charge to attempted murder in the shooting of Dan McKown, the most seriously injured of the six victims.
In 911 tapes released Thursday and obtained by The News Tribune of Tacoma, Maldonado calmly identified himself and described to dispatchers the weapons he is accused of using in the Nov. 20 shootings.
His first call came moments before shooting began at the mall.
Dispatcher: 911. What are you reporting?
Caller: Ah, yes, I am a gentleman. I currently own a M18 90 Chinese-made assault rifle, and I also have in my possession an Intertech Tec-9.
Dispatcher: What is it we can do for you here at 911?
Caller: Oh, I am just alerting you that I am about to start shooting right now.
Dispatcher: Where are you located? Sir, where are you located?
Caller: Follow the screams.
The tapes also include calls from witnesses who reported the chaos that erupted at the mall as the gunman marched down a mall corridor while firing an assault rifle and machine pistol.
One caller says he saw a “kid” who “threw his trench coat off. He had a machine gun, an AK, like a rifle, a semiautomatic rifle, just started shootin.”
Maldonado called again after slipping inside a Sam Goody record store, and asked to speak with a negotiator. The dispatcher asked if anyone had been hurt, and Maldonado said he had shot several people.
According to prosecutors, Maldonado denied intending to shoot anyone and was only trying to draw media attention. Court documents say he told detectives he had been humiliated during a difficult childhood and that recent problems had made him want to be “heard.”
Maldonado continued talking on the phone to the dispatchers, explaining that he had three hostages, none of whom was injured. He described the store he was in, and can be heard ordering the hostages to build a barricade. He continued to ask for a negotiator.
At one point, hostage James Black was allowed to call 911, and said there were actually four hostages, including a 10-year-old.
Black told the dispatchers that Maldonado wasn’t threatening to harm them, but wouldn’t allow them to leave.
The call was disconnected, but Black called twice more. He asked that authorities establish a direct line to the store, and told the dispatcher that Maldonado had released the 10-year-old, but was becoming agitated and wanted the lights outside the store turned on.
“He just wants to talk to these officers that he’d already made statements about talking to,” Black said.
Maldonado then got on the phone and asked to talk to a negotiator. He is heard talking on the 911 tape, but it’s inaudible. Then Black came back on the phone.
“There hasn’t been any shooting. Everything’s done,” Black said. “I got the weapons away from him.”
The dispatcher talked again to Maldonado, who appeared to begin crying as he apologized to the hostages. He said the guns were at the back of the store, and they were walking out the front.
At the dispatch center, detective Ray Shavari got on the phone.
“Please tell them I want to go peacefully, please,” Maldonado said.