Sheriff's investigators closing in on Graham high school shooting suspect
GRAHAM, Wash. - Pierce County sheriff's investigators believe they have identified the shooter who remains at large after gunning down two students Tuesday outside Graham-Kapowsin High School.
But so far they have been unable to track him down - and the search is complicated by the fact that he apparently goes by different names, nicknames and street names.
"Unfortunately we're not positively 100 percent sure what his name is due to different types of names and nicknames and Facebook names and street names. And a lot of the people involved in this are not being cooperative with us, so we're going to need the public's help," Ed Troyer of the Pierce County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.
Police say the shooter, who remains on the run, is the so-called "third suspect" who was in the car from which the shots were fired. Two other 17-year-old male suspects in the car have been arrested.
Troyer said a semiautomatic weapon was used in the shooting, but it has not been found.
"So that's probably still in his possession, and we definitely do not want people to try and contact him themselves. We want them to call us and let us do our job," he said.
The shooting happened Tuesday afternoon at the site of a prearranged fight between one of the suspects and another Graham-Kapowsin student, but the planned fight never happened. Instead the three suspects got into a car and then shots were fired from the car into the crowd of students who had gathered for the fight.
The scene was chaotic as the two wounded students were able to make it from the off-campus site, where a fight was supposed to take place, to back on campus and then were rushed to the hospital.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said dash camera video shows the getaway car, with the three suspects inside, leaving the scene. That car and other tips led to the arrest of two of three suspects.
One problem that detectives are facing in the investigation is the reluctance of some students and witnesses to provide information due to fear of retaliation or because they don't want to be labeled a "snitch."
But other witnesses have showed courage and provided the evidence needed to arrest the first two suspects. Those two suspects have so far refused to reveal the identity of the third suspect to investigators.
"We would like some more cooperation from some of the people who were involved, but it's their right to not talk to us," Troyer said. "So we'll have to do work-arounds, and we'll eventually get there, but we want to get there sooner than later because we don't want this gun to be used in another crime or in a retaliation type scenario."
Troyer encouraged parents of high school students in the area to show the photo of the third suspect to their children to see if they recognize the suspect.
He said students were involved from as far away as Lakewood and Tacoma, and some of them might know the suspect's identity or know who he hangs out with.
"Usually they're right under our noses somewhere, hiding in plain sight, and having people help hide them, and that's the little break we need," Troyer said. "We need a little tip of where he could possibly be and what his true name is."