EVERETT — A Lake Stevens man who claimed self-defense when he shot and killed a passenger on a Community Transit bus last month has been charged in Snohomish County Superior Court with second-degree murder.
Everett police responded shortly after 10 p.m. on March 7 to reports of an assault on a bus near the 7700 block of Evergreen Way.
When they arrived, Gene Peterson was already dead. He was 33.
Alejandro Meza, 22, who allegedly shot Peterson was still on the Swift line bus. He told police they had gotten into an argument, because Peterson was using drugs on the bus. At some point, Meza said, Peterson punched him.
They fought. Meza claimed he saw Peterson reach for something.
The officer asked what Meza did in response.
“What do you mean?” Meza said. “I (expletive) shot him.”
Video corroborated part of Meza’s story, according to charging papers. In it, Meza and Peterson can be seen fighting, but Peterson doesn’t appear to be reaching for anything. In the moment before Meza draws his pistol, Peterson reportedly has one hand up by his head, and the other is grabbing onto the hood of Meza’s jacket.
The video allegedly shows Meza draw his gun, rack the slide and fire. Peterson falls to his knees, turning his back to Meza, who reportedly fires his gun once more.
One bullet went through Peterson’s stomach, according to an autopsy. The second went downward into his back, and through his right lung and liver.
Police reported finding only one weapon at the scene: Meza’s 9 mm handgun.
Meza didn’t have a concealed pistol permit, according to charging papers. At first he told police he was open carrying, per the law, but later he reported that he pulled the gun out of his pants pocket.
After his arrest, a judge initially set Meza’s bail at $75,000.
Upon charging him, deputy prosecutors asked that it be raised to $500,000.
“The State believes … that his actions in this case demonstrate a much more substantial threat to community safety,” deputy prosecutor Adam Sturdivant wrote. “Specifically, he is alleged to have essentially executed a stranger on a public bus after a trivial argument with a firearm that he was not licensed to carry.”
Meza is set to be arraigned on April 12.