Alcohol and music led to fatal shooting in Federal Way

Crime scene on June 27 at SW 336th Street and 21st Avenue SW in Federal Way. - Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror
Crime scene on June 27 at SW 336th Street and 21st Avenue SW in Federal Way.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson revealed more details about a fatal shooting outside Johnny's Famous Bar and Grill.

In the June 27 incident, 23-year-old Cloise Young of Kent was shot to death, and six others were wounded. Wilson said it was a volatile combination of alcohol and a music genre that police believe led to the fatal shooting.

"The circumstances pertaining to this, is we had several patrons coming from out of the area. They're often times drawn by the type of music being offered at the establishment, and in addition, the disc jockey who may be employed by the business, actually has a following as well," Wilson said at the Federal Way City Council meeting July 3.

Young and the shooting suspect, identified in media reports as Kenneth Sutton, allegedly engaged in a verbal argument as the bar was shutting down for the night, Wilson said. At this time, police believe Young flashed his firearm at his eventual killer as part of the argument. Wilson noted that Young had a concealed weapons permit.

"This verbal exchange continued, and as a result of that, the one suspect shot the one who had the firearm, multiple times. Shots were exchanged. We don't believe the victim fired his weapon. We believe someone else fired his weapon," Wilson said.

Although it's a shooting incident that led to a death, Wilson said the police department is being careful in its investigation before filing any charges against the suspect. Charges are expected to be filed Friday.

"Charges have not been filed yet, and again, because of the complexity of this particular, in addition to some non-cooperation with some of our victims and witnesses," Wilson said. "We really want to try and dot our i's and cross our t's, before the charges are filed."

Initially, Federal Way police were uncertain if this shooting was gang-related. Wilson said that as the investigation has continued, connections to gangs for both the suspect and victim, along with witnesses, are being revealed.

"A good majority of the individuals, including the suspect and victim, have prior gang histories and current gang affiliation," Wilson said, noting that other people present at the shooting had gang affiliations.

Johnny's Famous Bar and Grill has been under its current ownership since 2006. Since that time, Wilson said that there have been few issues with the business and the way it's been run. He said in recent months, there's been an uptick in trouble at the bar. Officers assigned to patrol duty in the area have noted that people often congregate in the parking lot and consume alcohol there before heading into the bar. Along with that illegal consumption of alcohol, other issues have surfaced recently.

"(There have been) several arrests for assault, firearms violations, malicious mischief and resisting arrest," Wilson noted.

Wilson said FWPD is putting together an operational plan to review other bars and clubs in the city that may attract rowdier crowds, in order to deter the over-serving of liquor and other issues. He said that the ownership of Johnny's is planning a complete overhaul for the bar, with a name change and shift in focus.

Councilwoman Linda Kochmar asked if this shooting is indicative of a gang issue in this city. Wilson said it was mostly the music scene that drew people into Johnny's on June 27.

"It is a draw to a type of music, and there are some DJs who actually have followings, that draw people wherever they go," Wilson said. "And these are the circumstances that we believed have occurred over the last three months with this particular business."


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