Man charged in fatal shooting outside pool hall near Everett

Prosecutors charged Octaviano Vera-Hernandez Jr. with first-degree murder in Damien Navarro’s death last month.


EVERETT — As Damien Navarro ran into the street outside a billiards hall near Everett last month, someone fired a half-dozen shots, hitting him three times, prosecutors wrote in new charging papers.

Navarro, of Everett, was dead by the time sheriff’s deputies arrived. He was 31.

On Friday, Snohomish County prosecutors charged Octaviano Vera-Hernandez Jr., 22, with first-degree murder. Court papers list him with Everett and Camano Island addresses.

Just after 1:30 a.m. on March 6, a fight broke out in a parking lot near 128th Billiards at 617 128th St. SW. The altercation began inside but reignited outside, according to charging papers. A bartender told a 911 dispatcher that up to 20 people were fighting when gunfire rang out.

Video footage showed a man running into 128th Street SW, according to the charges. Three people were apparently chasing after him.

Then, one of them rapidly fired six shots at the man running into the street, the footage reportedly showed. Three of them hit Navarro. One bullet struck his left foot. Another grazed his shoulder. The fatal shot was to the head.

Another video recorded by a bystander shows a man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with a North Face logo and blue jeans with a white pattern, according to court documents. He can reportedly be seen walking away from the parking lot brawl toward the eventual shooting. With his right hand, he apparently tightens his sweatshirt’s hood around his head. His left hand reportedly reaches for his waist.

The shooter drove away in a white Nissan vehicle, the bartender reported.

Nearby, a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy was working an off-duty security detail when Vera-Hernandez reportedly drove by in his white Nissan Maxima. The deputy and others pulled him over. They found no weapons on his body, according to charges.

In a police interview, Vera-Hernandez said he’d been at 128th Billiards. He saw people fighting but wasn’t involved. He had no conflicts with anyone there, he said. He heard what could’ve been gunshots, but wasn’t sure. He reported he didn’t have any weapons.

Vera-Hernandez declined to consent to a search of his car. He was released, but his car was impounded for evidence. After a judge granted permission to search it, detectives found two “ghost guns” similar to a Glock, but with no serial numbers. One was wedged between the driver’s seat and the center console. They also found a pistol magazine with a 31-round capacity in the car and more 9 mm ammunition, according to court documents.

Bullet cartridges found in Vera-Herndandez’s car matched those found at the scene of Navarro’s killing, according to the charges.

As detectives investigated, a witness who knew the suspect said she saw Vera-Hernandez kill Navarro.

Three weeks after the shooting, Vera-Hernandez was arrested for investigation of first-degree murder. He chose not to answer questions from police. Reviewing video, detectives reportedly saw the suspect wipe down a water bottle he touched, “presumably to eliminate any forensic evidence,” deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter wrote in the charges. He did the same with a detective’s phone after he called his lawyer.

Vera-Hernandez has been in the Snohomish County Jail since March 29 with bail set at $1 million. He has no previous felony or misdemeanor convictions but did have at least eight outstanding warrants for his arrest from 2018 and 2019, according to the charging papers.

An online fundraiser to help with funeral costs described Navarro as an “amazing person with a smile to match” who “would do anything for the people he loved.”

“Damien was a son, a brother, and most importantly a father,” the obituary reads.

No motive for the killing was listed in the criminal charges. A sheriff’s office news release announcing the arrest last month noted detectives didn’t believe Vera-Hernandez and Navarro knew each other.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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