Mystery shots leave Everett man critical

By Jim Haley

Herald Writer

EVERETT — Jason Hunter stepped out of his car in front of his parents’ home on Rucker Hill Monday night and was greeted by a hail of bullets.

He slumped to the driveway and used his cell phone to call 911.

Hunter, 25, was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with wounds to his chest, pelvis and both arms, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Police have been tight-lipped about the investigation, other than to say nobody has been taken into custody in connection with the shooting and there’s little immediate evidence. At the same time, neighbors are concerned.

Asked if it was a random shooting, Everett police Sgt. Boyd Bryant said: "We don’t know yet. The officers are investigating the case."

Detectives were at the home in the 1000 block of Charles Avenue, about a block away from Jackson Elementary School on nearby Federal Avenue. The Hunter home is on a quiet dead-end street near the top of a hill just east of Federal Avenue.

Neighbors, some who heard the shots ring out about 8:35 p.m., said they didn’t see another car in the vicinity until a bevy of police and Everett Fire Department vehicles began arriving within minutes.

The shooting puzzles Josiah Johnson, a longtime friend of Hunter and a fellow 1994 graduate of Everett High School.

"I’m baffled," said Johnson, who went to Harborview Tuesday to lend his support to the family. "That’s what makes this situation so surreal. He’s liked by his peers. He’s a great guy and personable. He isn’t the type of guy anyone disliked."

After graduation, Hunter entered the U.S. Navy. Upon discharge, he returned to Everett, started work and has been attending Edmonds Community College, Johnson said. He works for a technical recruiting company in Seattle.

He apparently was coming home to visit his parents after his night class when he was attacked.

"It just doesn’t make sense," Johnson said. "He was pretty much on the straight and narrow. … It would be different if it was anyone else but Jason. With his character, it’s hard to believe something like this could happen to him."

Johnson’s parents, who live next door to the Hunters, heard the shots. There were as many as five or six in quick succession, Cleo Johnson said. He at first thought his wife had made the noise, but he soon realized they were gunshots and went out on his porch.

Police arrived "almost immediately," he said. He saw an officer attend to the wounded man and calm him. The young man was taken by helicopter to Harborview.

Hunter’s parents, Dan and Lynn Hunter, didn’t know anything had happened until the police cars started arriving, Libby Johnson said. Jason Hunter’s mother apparently had been vacuuming the house, and that may have masked the shots, she said.

"It was a shock for them to find their son lying in the driveway," she said.

The lack of a motive worried neighbors. Cleo Johnson speculated that somebody might have been waiting for Jason Hunter. He said a police dog followed a scent onto Federal Avenue and the vicinity of the grade school.

"The scariest thing is it doesn’t figure with anything about the kid. There was never an indication in any way he would draw that kind of attention to himself," Cleo Johnson said.

Another neighbor, Jim Grader, has played golf with both Dan and Jason Hunter. The younger man "seemed to have his life in order. He’s a real nice kid to be around and there’s nothing bad to say about him."

If the police could tell him it wasn’t a random shooting, Grader said, "it would help me and my lady sleep a lot better."

You can call Herald Writer Jim Haley at 425-339-3447

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