Police: Startup man killed grandmother’s friend who came to protect her

A confrontation preceded the shooting Saturday. Tristan Trinh, 23, was arrested for investigation of second-degree murder.

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STARTUP — A Startup woman was in the process of obtaining a no-contact order against her grandson when he killed a Monroe man trying to protect her Saturday, police said.

The night before Tristan Trinh fatally shot the Monroe man, 39, authorities had been at the woman’s home in the 36700 block of U.S. 2, according to a Snohomish County detective’s report. The grandmother, 69, had called 911 after Trinh, who also lived on the property, exposed himself to her.

At that time, Trinh told a sheriff’s deputy he had guns and knives, but always keeps them in his home, according to court documents.

On Saturday morning, he again exposed himself, she reportedly told investigators. At about 10:30 a.m., she asked him to leave the property. Half an hour later, she had a friend come over to stay with her while she filled out the no-contact order against Trinh online. The Monroe man came with his young son.

When the man arrived, Trinh, 23, confronted him at the front door, police said. Trinh tried to stop him from going inside. A fight ensued, according to court papers.

They made their way to a nearby parking lot. Trinh positioned himself by a dumpster, near the Haystack Company antique store. The grandmother recalled saying she would call 911, detective Eric Fagan’s report states. She went inside to get her phone.

Then she reportedly heard multiple gunshots.

She went outside to find her friend bleeding, according to court documents. The slain man hadn’t been publicly identified Monday.

A neighbor’s video camera recorded the shooting. It shows the man approaching Trinh. But he stops on the opposite side of the dumpster, as the suspect pulls out a gun and points it at the man, who turns around and walks away, according to court papers.

A few seconds later, Trinh takes a step forward and raises his arms, appearing to take up a shooting position. A second later, he shoots, the video footage reportedly shows. The victim, about 11 steps away, falls to the ground.

Trinh then lowers his gun and runs toward the man he shot, bends over, leans forward and allegedly shoots him again, according to police.

Each one of those steps “represent a different moment in time where Trinh could have, at any time, altered his course and not shoot (the victim) that final time,” Fagan wrote.

Meanwhile, the man’s son, age 10, watched as his father was shot to death, according to court documents.

A witness reported he approached Trinh after the shooting, once the magazine fell out of the suspect’s gun. He threw a rock at Trinh, but missed. Trinh told the witness, “I respect you,” and dropped the .22-caliber Magnum pistol, according to Fagan’s report.

Trinh was arrested for investigation of second-degree murder. The detective indicated in his report Trinh’s alleged actions could be considered premeditated first-degree murder.

The suspect declined to speak with investigators at the scene and requested an attorney. Unprompted, however, Trinh reportedly said, “I had to kill him,” claiming the shooting was in self-defense.

In his report, Fagan disagrees, writing that the victim “did not appear to turn around, be armed with a weapon or do anything that would cause anyone passing by to believe he was armed or about to cause injury to Trinh.”

On Monday, Trinh was held in the Snohomish County Jail with bail set at $1 million.

Herald reporter Ellen Dennis contributed to this report.

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

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