Teen Shot, Robbed Man in Meeting to Sell Video Game Console in Tacoma, Charges Allege

Peter Talbot / The Newsstand

Pierce County prosecutors say a 17-year-old boy arranged to meet two people in a South End neighborhood last month to sell them a PlayStation video game console. Instead of making the sale, he robbed the buyers and shot them in the stomach.

The boy was charged as an adult on Wednesday in Pierce County Superior Court with first-degree larceny and two counts of first-degree assault.

He was to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.

The robbery and shooting took place Feb. 18 in the 3300 block of Cushman Avenue outside an apartment complex overlooking Interstate 5. In charging documents, prosecutors said the teen told the 39-year-old buyer and his girlfriend to meet him there. When the 39-year-old greeted him, the teenager pulled out a gun and told him to hand over all his money.

The man ran, but the suspected thief quickly caught up to him and asked for his wallet. He handed it over, and the teenager shot him and fled, prosecutors say.

Tacoma Police Department detectives used screenshots of the sale provided by the victims to trace the seller’s account to the teenager, according to the charging documents. A photo montage was created and the shooting victim identified the boy as the person who shot him. The other victim and a witness were less sure, but both pointed to a photo of the teenager to identify the culprit.

Detectives arrested the teenager without incident on March 4 in Tacoma. He was booked into Remann Hall, the Pierce County Juvenile Detention Center.

The charging documents gave this account:

Tacoma Police Department officers responded at approximately 4:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at the 3300 block of Cushman Avenue to a report of a man shot dead during a robbery. When officers arrived they found a man on the ground surrounded by people trying to help.

Police soon learned that the 39-year-old shooting victim had traveled to the area with his girlfriend to buy a PlayStation from someone she had met online.

According to the probable cause determination statement, the salesman, later identified as the teenager, told the two to meet him at his aunt’s apartment, providing them with an address on Cushman and an apartment number. Further investigation later revealed that the boy had no connection to the building.

The victims told police that, while sitting in their car, the teenager approached on foot with a backpack. The 39-year-old came out and introduced himself. The teenager took off his backpack and waved to the apartment.

According to the charging document, that’s when the boy pointed a gun at the man. “Give me all your [expletive] money,” the teenager allegedly told him.

The 39-year-old told the boy he had no money because he planned to test play the PlayStation before buying it. The man started running and the teenager told the man to stop or he would shoot him, according to the probable cause document.

Meanwhile, the buyer’s girlfriend was screaming in the car. She threatened to call the police. The teenager walked to the passenger window and pointed his gun a few feet from his head. “Tell him to give me the money or I’ll put a cork in your [expletive]“, he reportedly told her. She continued to scream.

The woman told the police that at that time the boy ran after her boyfriend and caught up with him. She said she saw him point a gun at her boyfriend’s stomach and then heard a gunshot. The 39-year-old fell to the ground and the shooter fled.

The 39-year-old then told detectives the teenager asked for his wallet, which he gave to her. According to the probable cause document, the boy took the wallet in one hand and fired the gun he was holding in the other.

The man was transported to Tacoma General Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. The bullet passed through his bladder and intestines, and when police spoke to him a week later he had a colostomy bag.

While police were still on the scene, a passerby approached and told officers he was also there to buy a PlayStation from someone he had met online. Detectives determined that both sales were linked to the teenager.