Samuel Gizaw, charged in the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Jayda Woods-Johnson, appears in court for his plea hearing on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Samuel Gizaw, charged in the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Jayda Woods-Johnson, appears in court for his plea hearing on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Bail set at $2M for Edmonds boy charged with Alderwood Mall shooting

Samuel Gizaw tried shooting at a boy who punched him in the face. Instead, prosecutors allege, he shot and killed Jayda Woods-Johnson, 13.

LYNNWOOD — An Edmonds boy pleaded not guilty to murder Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old girl at the Alderwood Mall food court.

Samuel Gizaw was charged in Snohomish County Superior Court with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree assault and juvenile in possession of a firearm in the killing of Jayda Woods-Johnson. Prosecutors charged the 16-year-old boy in adult court.

Under state law, minors are automatically charged as adults if the crimes they’re accused of are “serious violent offenses,” like murder. Snohomish County doesn’t see many cases where this applies, Prosecutor Jason Cummings said Wednesday.

“They are not so rare that they never happen, but it’s not like they happen every year,” Cummings said.

Gizaw was back in custody at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center on Wednesday. At arraignment Wednesday afternoon, Judge Marybeth Dingledy set bail at $2 million. The courtroom was packed with family and friends of Woods-Johnson, some wearing shirts with her name printed on the back.

Jayda Woods-Johnson (Photo provided by Lynnwood Police)

Around 6 p.m. July 3, Gizaw left the AMC movie theater at the mall with friends, according to the charges. He and a friend went into the mall, surveillance footage reportedly shows. While there, five other teens confronted them.

According to the charges, Gizaw got into a fight with them.

One, aged 17, punched him in the face. In response, he pulled out a gun, prosecutors allege. The five other teens ran and Gizaw chased after them. He shot at the boy who punched him. Instead, he hit Woods-Johnson, who was walking with a friend and wasn’t involved in the fight, prosecutors allege.

Woods-Johnson was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy found she was shot in the back, according to court papers. The bullet hit her right lung and heart.

Gizaw fled with a group of teens who picked him up, according to court documents.

“The response to being punched was targeted and retaliatory,” deputy prosecutor Elise Deschenes wrote in the charges.

Lynnwood police locked down the mall. Investigators posted a photo of the defendant on social media, asking for information on him. A Kamiak High School teacher and school resource officer identified the boy as Gizaw.

At 8:23 p.m., over two hours after the shooting, the defendant’s mother brought him to the Mukilteo Police Department at his request, according to the charges. Gizaw didn’t tell his parents what happened.

Gizaw’s father told police he wasn’t sure how his son got access to the gun. Police had not found the weapon, as of this week, the charges say.

Police arrested Gizaw and took him to the Denney Juvenile Justice Center. He later posted $500,000 bond and was released.

In the charges, Deschenes requested a judge issue a warrant to arrest the teen again.

“At just 16 years old, during the early evening, the defendant brought a loaded firearm to the crowded mall,” Deschenes wrote. “After a single punch, the defendant severely escalated the situation by displaying a firearm with dozens of innocent and uninvolved individuals around them.”

Detectives later determined the feud between Gizaw and the other teens stemmed from a “disrespectful comment” Gizaw made in a phone call about “a deceased individual” associated with the five teens.

Macy Nearing, alongside Kayri Alverez, wipes away tears while speaking during a vigil held in memory of Jayda Woods-Johnson at Mountlake Terrace High School on Sunday, July 7, 2024, in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Macy Nearing, alongside Kayri Alverez, wipes away tears while speaking during a vigil held in memory of Jayda Woods-Johnson at Mountlake Terrace High School on Sunday, July 7, 2024, in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

A vigil Sunday night at Mountlake Terrace High School honored Woods-Johnson.

“I’m realizing no one is promised safety anywhere, to always keep your guard up, and to never take anything for granted,” classmate Macy Nearing said through tears Sunday. “Always tell loved ones and friends you love them, no matter how mad you are at them. You are my beautiful sweet angel, Jayda.”

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434; maya.tizon@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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