LYNNWOOD — Parking had been a “contentious issue” for a while in the neighborhood along 203rd Street SW, according to charges of murder against Alex Valdovinos of Lynnwood.
A resident and his friend, Demarcus Bell, 36, of Tacoma, knocked at the house next door late March 28 to confront the neighbors about a car sitting in front of the annoyed resident’s home.
A woman answered. They argued. A man emerged from the home and blocked the door. It turned into a fight on the front porch. According to the charges, one man suffered a broken leg, and the resident, 40, had his false teeth knocked out. That man later reported more men emerged from the house — some with pistols, though police were unable to confirm whether multiple people had weapons. The man shouted to his girlfriend, “Go get my gun.” He didn’t actually have one, he later told police. That was just a ruse to get the men to stop.
Moments later another man — bald, in a Seattle Mariners button-down jersey — showed up on the porch with a rifle that looked like an AR-15, with a wooden stock, charging papers say. The man fired at least two shots into the air, according to various witness reports.
Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives believe the shooter was Valdovinos, 27. The fight dispersed. As the resident and Bell retreated, three or four more shots rang out at the neighboring house. Bell fell to the ground where the driveway meets the street, according to the charges. He’d been shot in the back of the head.
An autopsy suggested the wound came from a .22-caliber bullet.
Inside the home where Valdovinos lived, police found a Heckler and Koch .22-caliber rifle, an apparent match for shell casings outside on the sidewalk and street, as well as a live round in the grass. Charges say the gun could be easily mistaken for an AR-15.
Detectives interviewed Valdovinos. He’d been smoking marijuana and playing video games with a housemate when he heard wrestling and cursing upstairs, he told police. He saw a friend getting stomped by two strangers, he reported. He also saw one of the men strike his pit bull, according to Valdovinos’ account. However, he told detectives, he “never had a gun, did not fire a gun, and did not shoot anyone.” He reported he didn’t hear gunshots at all and that he didn’t even own a gun — though there might be 9mm rounds in his bedroom.
The woman who had answered the door told police Valdovinos did come outside with a rifle during the fight and that he fired it two or three times toward the sky.
Two witnesses who were friends of Bell reported the man who fired changed his clothes in the time between the gunfire and when police ordered everyone in the home to come out.
Detectives considered Valdovinos a “person of interest” in another shooting at his home on March 10, when the victim of the gunfire did not cooperate with a police investigation.
And two weeks before the killing, Valdovinos and a housemate were pulled over by state troopers near Wenatchee for a traffic infraction. The passenger moved his legs and a trooper saw a 9 mm pistol, according to court records. Valdovinos told law enforcement the vehicle belonged to him but he didn’t know about the pistol.
Past misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence make the defendant ineligible to possess guns.
Valdovinos remained jailed this month with bail set at $200,000. He pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder with a firearm on April 20. His next court date is set for May 28.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; email@example.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.