EVERETT — Three men have been charged with first-degree murder in a robbery-turned-shooting at Everett’s Langus Riverfront Park in August.
Snohomish County prosecutors filed charges Sept. 25 against Christopher Benson, 42, of Tulalip; Kyle Spencer Caperoon, 29, of Camano Island; and Joshua Lowery, 26, of Camano Island.
Witnesses who were loading their kayaks onto a vehicle on Aug. 31 heard what sounded like a firecracker. They looked up and saw a man jump into a moving Ford Escape, according to the charges filed by deputy prosecutor Katherine Wetmore.
The kayakers, both nurses, found James Ronald Scannell, of Everett, in the driver’s seat of his Mercury Montego with a gunshot wound to the head. Clutched in his hand was a mix of real and fake cash. He was 56.
Everett officers found two men, apparently unrelated to the suspects, on Scannell’s boat anchored nearby. They told the officers they came from Camano Island to buy drugs from Scannell. They were waiting for him to return from getting food, but he never came back, they told police.
On Sept. 5, video footage from Dagmar’s Marina helped police track down the Ford Escape’s owner, Benson, who acknowledged driving the other two men to and from the park, for what he initially thought was a drug deal. On the way, Lowery reportedly showed Benson an envelope filled with money and asked if the cash looked real. Then, Caperoon and Lowery armed themselves with a silver handgun and a pellet gun, the charges say.
Benson told officers he stayed in his vehicle and acted as lookout while the other two got into Scannell’s car. Lowery sat in the front passenger’s seat and Caperoon sat behind Scannell. They were in the car for about 10 minutes when Benson heard a loud pop, what he believed to be a gunshot.
Then they ran back to the Ford and Benson drove off. According to Benson, Caperoon claimed he tried to pistol whip Scannell when his gun went off.
Benson reported he drove to nearby River’s Landing Apartments because he’d been there before. He abandoned the Ford and the suspects split up.
Caperoon also was arrested on Sept. 5, after leading sheriff’s deputies with Snohomish and Island counties on a chase. He said he, Lowery and Benson met up at Quil Ceda Creek Casino and headed to the park to rob Scannell, because he previously stole from Lowery. Caperoon allegedly admitted to being armed with a Kimber Micro 9 mm pistol belonging to his fiance’s father.
According to charging papers, Caperoon told police he was in the backseat when he pulled out his gun, racked the slide and told Scannell to empty his pockets. Scannell reportedly said he couldn’t give them anything because he “had too much riding on this deal.” As Caperoon tells it, Scannell then reached for the gun and that’s when it went off. The suspects allegedly took heroin, methamphetamine and Scannell’s keys before fleeing.
“I was trying to leave, I was trying to go to California,” Caperoon told police, according to charges.
Ultimately, he said he stayed for his fiance.
“There is no way I am convincing a judge that it was an accident,” he reportedly said, according to charges.
Lowery was arrested on Sept. 8 in Snohomish by the county’s Violent Offender Task Force. He initially said Caperoon forced him into participating in the robbery. When detectives questioned him further, he admitted robbing Scannell was his idea and that he set up the deal, according to the charges. He told police Scannell had shorted him hundreds of dollars worth of drugs in the past.
Lowery and Caperoon remained in the Snohomish County Jail on Friday with bail set at $1 million. Benson also was still in custody, too, in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @zachariahtb.