TACOMA — Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Monday they may file murder charges against one JBLM soldier and rendering criminal assistance charges against two others in the death of 20-year-old Spc. Tevin Geike, an active-duty soldier who was stabbed early Saturday morning while walking with friends.
Police said Pvt. Jeremiah Hill, 23, of Chicago, Pfc. Cedarium Johnson, 21, of Tyler, Texas, and Spc. Ajoni Runnion-Bareford, 21, of Islesboro, Maine, were booked into Pierce County Jail Monday morning. Two other men apparently present at the stabbing were interviewed but not arrested, police said.
All soldiers involved in this incident are assigned to the 7th Infantry Division assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
According to police, Geike, of Summerville, S.C., was walking with two friends early Saturday morning along Pacific Highway SW in Lakewood. Geike’s friends told police a group of five men in a blue sedan yelled a racial slur at the soldiers, who in return yelled back about disrespecting combat veterans.
However, Lakewood police Lt. Chris Lawler said, “It appears from interviewing everyone involved that race was not a motivating factor in this homicide.”
Police said the five men in the car pulled over to confront Geike and his friends, but the driver of the car told his acquaintances to leave the scene once they discovered Geike was indeed a combat veteran. However, one of the men stabbed Geike to death as his friends were leaving. The five men then fled the scene. Geike was pronounced dead when emergency crews arrived.
A search was launched early Saturday for the five suspects. A break in the case came when a JBLM sergeant told police that a soldier in his unit told him that Hill had asked for a first aid kit to treat a knife wound on his right hand Saturday afternoon.
Hill allegedly told the soldier he cut his when he hand stabbed a guy to death over the weekend. The sergeant told his superior about Hill, who allegedly changed his story to say he cut his hand while chopping vegetables when confronted. Hill was then taken to the hospital where he told staff he cut his hand while trimming a parachute cord, police said.
Police interviewed Hill’s commanding sergeant and another 21-year-old soldier who was known to spend time with Hill. The 21-year-old said he was with Hill the night of the stabbing, and allegedly confessed to being part of the group that confronted Geike. He said the group was getting back in the sedan when Hill grabbed the victim and seemed to “bear hug” Geike. When they returned to the car, Hill was reportedly covered in blood and they realized he had stabbed Geike and cut himself. The group allegedly drove off and disposed of the knife.
Police learned the names of the other men in the group. A 19-year-old present at the time confirmed the 21-year-old’s version of the events. Police detained Hill, Johnson and Runnion-Barefordthe. Hill was the only suspect who refused to give a statement. His vehicle was also seized as evidence.
All the men involved in the incident are combat veterans.
The case is being sent to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office to determine what charges will be filed against the suspects.