Police: Accused Kent gunman says shootings were over racial slurs
KENT — Police said the alleged gunman in the double murder at a Kent Shell gas station told them it all started when a group of construction workers hurled racial slurs at him and his friend.
In probable cause documents filed in King County Superior Court, a Kent police detective said the suspect told him that when store employees intervened, he opened fire.
The detective said suspect Leland Russell, 29, of Burien, admitted to shooting both victims. He “said construction workers at the gas station said racial slurs to him” and his friend. “He said once inside the gas station they repeated the racial epithet.”
He “and the workers got in a verbal argument that was joined by employees of the Shell gas station,” the detective said. The suspect “later admits that the fight was over disrespect.”
The suspect “stated that he had to shoot the victims because if he didn’t (his friend’s) family would kill” him for not standing up for his friend.
Witnesses said the fight began over the suspect taking up multiple parking spots.
A store clerk and the store’s manager, Dave Christianson, were killed in the Wednesday morning shooting.
To those who knew Christianson, he was simply Dave; always with a smile on his face, always with a kind word when it was needed most.
“He’s going to be missed by everybody. Anytime I had a problem I could come talk to him and he’d give me advice. Fifteen years of friendship. He wasn’t just a manager, he was a friend,” Jerrold Austin said.
Christianson was a friend who was trying to do the right thing — a manager trying to help his employee.
“It’s horrible, for a senseless, senseless act, literally. This could have happened anywhere. It wasn’t about gas. It wasn’t about convenience, just the wrong place at the wrong time,” store owner Ariff Gulamami said.
Witnesses say the driver and the passenger in a black Cadillac got into an argument with a store employee over how they parked and the loud music they were playing.
The argument apparently led to a fist fight and the driver, who police identify as Leland Russell, 29, of Burien, allegedly pulled a gun out of the car and shot Christianson and another employee dead in the parking lot.
“What it sounds like he was just trying to intervene, trying to do the right thing, and something like that happens?” customer Fred Olsen said.
To the killer, the two lives apparently had no value. But customers and former co-workers say the loss is immeasurable.
“I worked with him for a long time and he was a great boss, and a great friend, and I’m pretty sure everyone’s going to miss him,” former employee Abraham said.
“I think he was just about people and it’s just so sad,” customer Stephanie Vedik said.
Meanwhile, late Thursday evening we learned the name of the clerk who was also killed.
Family members visiting the memorial identified him as 26-year-old Carlos Gonzalez (pictured on front of video report). They say he was a wonderful young man who will be sorely missed.
Police are still looking for the second suspect.
If you have any information, call 911.