Arlington-area man arrested in fatal machete attack

The suspect, 31, claimed self-defense. It was an argument over a wheelbarrow, a sheriff’s deputy wrote.

ARLINGTON — An Arlington-area man claimed self-defense after he killed his roommate with a machete late Wednesday in an apparent fight over a wheelbarrow, according to police reports filed in court.

Authorities had not released the name of the deceased Thursday.

The alleged attacker, 31, was arrested for investigation of second-degree murder with a deadly weapon.

The man called 911 around 7 p.m. Wednesday to report he had used a machete in a fight with his roommate, 51, who was injured, according to a report by a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy. He then hung up.

A 911 dispatcher called him back. The Arlington-area man reportedly said over the phone that he would not run away. He tried to explain his actions.

“It’s self-defense, it was self-defense. I needed to protect her,” a dispatcher thought she heard him say, according to the police reports.

A neighbor called 911, too, saying the suspect was running north on 127th Avenue NE in Arlington Heights, according to the reports.

Sheriff’s deputies drove to the crime scene. On their way, they saw a shirtless man — later identified as the suspect — sitting on the ground at 127th and 208th Street NE. He had blood on his hands and shoes. Deputies detained him.

The man reported he had “no choice.” He claimed his roommate had been “strangling” his girlfriend, and that the roommate also used a shovel to attack him and the girlfriend.

Deputies advised him of his right to remain silent, according to the court papers. The man kept talking, reportedly saying he hit the roommate in the neck with the blade. He told deputies the roommate was yelling at him, and then started walking aggressively toward him with a shovel. He claimed he armed himself “as a deterrent.” The roommate raised the shovel in the air, the boyfriend reported. According to his statement, he believed he would be hit. Instead he struck the roommate. Nobody was actually hit with a shovel, the boyfriend confirmed.

At the home, deputies found the roommate’s body in the gravel driveway. Detectives believe the boyfriend, his girlfriend and the deceased man all lived at the same house.

A neighbor said he was mowing his lawn when the suspect ran toward him and told him he “had to defend” himself.

The man’s girlfriend told a deputy an argument broke out between the two men before the attack, because the older roommate accused the couple of stealing a wheelbarrow, according to the police reports. The fight escalated, so the girlfriend stepped between the two men.

According to the girlfriend, the 51-year-old man grabbed her shirt collar and shook her. The roommate shoved her, she reported, and her boyfriend swung the machete. The girlfriend tried to grab the weapon, and she suffered a cut to her hand. Eventually she was able to disarm her boyfriend. She ran into the house to get towels to treat the roommate’s wound, she reported.

According to her report, she was never threatened with a shovel or strangled.

On Thursday morning, the suspect was booked into the Snohomish County Jail. He was expected to appear before a judge Friday.

Correction on Friday, June 18, 2021: This story was changed to reflect that the two men are not uncle and nephew, according to updated information from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @reporterellen

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