Tacoma killer captured in Mexico after 9 years on the run sentenced to 30 years


TACOMA, WA – June 29, 2018.

Gabriel Nevarez, 29, was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for the 2007 murder of Kyle Grinnell, 21, in a drive-by shooting.

Nevarez, a U.S. citizen, was taken into custody in February 2016, in Michoacan, Mexico, by the Policía Federal Ministerial, in close coordination with the FBI. Mexican authorities transferred Nevarez to FBI custody in Mexico City.  FBI agents then brought Nevarez back to Washington State.

“It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how far we have to go, we will hold violent criminals accountable and keep our community safe,” Said prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

During the afternoon of February 21, 2007, Nevarez drove to Grinnell’s home on South Tyler Street looking to settle an old score with Juan Carlos Ruiz, 19. Nevarez arrived at the home and found Ruiz outside at the top of a stairway.  Grinnell was below him about 20 feet away and in the line of fire between Nevarez’s car and Ruiz.

When the shooting started, witnesses heard gunfire coming from Nevarez’s car.  He was hanging outside the driver’s side window with both hands on a silver .38 caliber revolver, firing toward the victim. Grinnell died at the scene.  Ruiz, the apparent target, was not injured.

The case was handled by Deputy Prosecutor Greg Greer who asked the court for the long sentence.

CAPTURE UPDATE May 11, 2018 — 
Gabriel Nevarez, now age 29, pleaded guilty to first degree murder for the 2007 drive-by shooting that killed 21-year-old Kyle Grinnell.

“Pulling this defendant into court took more than nine years and a lot of hard work,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how far we have to go, we will hold violent criminals accountable and keep our community safe.”

Sentencing is scheduled for June 29.

CAPTURE UPDATE August 18, 2016 —
Wanted fugitive, Gabriel Nevarez, was returned to the United States on Thursday after nine years on the run. Agents from the FBI’s Seattle Division brought Nevarez, 28, formerly of Tacoma, back from Mexico to face state charges of Murder in the First Degree, Assault in the First Degree, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the Second Degree.

Pierce County issued a warrant for Nevarez’s arrest after the February 2007 murder of Kyle Grinnell, Jr., in Tacoma.

Nevarez, a U.S. citizen, was taken into custody without incident in February 2016, in Michoacan, Mexico.

Kyle Grinnell Sr. remembers his only son, “I named him after me, but quickly I started calling him buddy ‘cause he was just always with me, he was my little buddy.”

21-year-old Kyle Grinnell Jr. was also the oldest of four kids with a special connection to his father.

“He really wanted to be like me, wanted to be me. So, we had a great relationship because he was just always with me,” Grinnell said.

Kyle Jr. lived at an apartment complex owned by his father just off Tyler Street in Tacoma. He was pressure washing the sidewalk as a favor to his dad when gun shots rang out. It was around 4:30 in the afternoon on February 21, 2007.

“The early phases of the shooting investigation identified Gabriel Nevarez as the shooter in this particular incident,” said Detective Gene Miller with the Tacoma Police Department.

Nevarez, or “The Joker” as he was known on the street, was trying to kill someone else.

“As he approached the residents he rolled down the driver side window of the suspect vehicle and fired multiple rounds in the direction of the person he wanted to strike. That individual was not struck instead the victim in this case, Kyle Grinnell was struck. He was not the intended target,” Miller said.

Kyle was killed simply because he was standing next to the wrong person. His father was hoping to have dinner with him that night.

“I was leaving him a voicemail message at the time he was killed,” Grinnell said. “It’s been nearly 7 years now and as you can see, I can still get emotional about it. It’s the hurt that never goes away.”

Grinnell feels not just the loss of an only son, but also a future legacy.

“It was incredibly tough the first few years – really, really tough the first few years. For me, I felt that I was not only mourning for my son, but I was mourning my grandkids that he would have brought into the world eventually. I don’t know why that hurt so much too, but it did,” said Grinnell.

Knowing the killer is still free only adds pain to this horrific situation. Police believe that Gabriel Nevarez may have fled to Mexico. They want to bring him back to face first degree murder charges, but they need help to make that happen.

“Gabriel Nevarez does have several family members that live in the pierce county Tacoma area and I can’t exclude the possibility that he may be in contact with some of those persons,” said Miller. ”It’s my hope that someone comes forward regarding his current whereabouts. It’d be a heck of a Christmas present for the family to know that they’re going to finally get to face the person responsible for  killing Mr. Grinnell.”

If you know anything about the whereabouts of wanted fugitive Gabriel Nevarez or “The Joker,” Call Crime Stoppers. All call are guaranteed anonymous and you could get $1,000 cash reward for information leading to his arrest.


CLICK HERE for information on how to TEXT A TIP to Crime Stoppers.

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