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5 dead in Federal Way apartment shootout; 8 officers placed on leave

The shooting occurred about 9:30 p.m. April 21 at the Pinewood Village Apartments, 33306 17th Lane S. (near South 333rd Street and Pacific Highway South). As of Monday morning, the apartment complex was still under investigation by law enforcement. - Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror
The shooting occurred about 9:30 p.m. April 21 at the Pinewood Village Apartments, 33306 17th Lane S. (near South 333rd Street and Pacific Highway South). As of Monday morning, the apartment complex was still under investigation by law enforcement.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

Five people died Sunday night in one of the deadliest incidents in Federal Way history.

Several 911 callers had reported gunshots at the Pinewood Village Apartments, located near Pacific Highway and South 333rd Street. Police arrived in the midst of an active shootout about 9:35 p.m.

In a stairwell, police encountered and fired at a man who was armed with a shotgun. The suspect ran out of view and fell in the parking lot. As officers approached, the suspect was seen reaching for a handgun on the ground, according to Federal Way police. Police issued commands to stop, and the suspect was shot dead by officers. A total of eight officers fired their weapons, according to police.

The suspect was described as a black male, 28, who lived at the apartment complex. Media reports identified him as Dennis Clark III, although his name has not been officially released.

A 25-year-old white female, identified in reports as Justine Baez, was the suspect's girlfriend and was found dead in their apartment.

"We believe this is a domestic violence homicide," said Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson in a press conference.

After shooting his girlfriend, the suspect shot two men who confronted him in the parking lot. Police say the two men, ages 24 and 46, had no relationship to the suspect. The 24-year-old man has been identified as Ceasar Valdovinos. A third victim, a 62-year-old male who lived at the complex, was found dead of a shotgun wound inside his apartment. Police report the man's door had been opened with a shotgun blast, and that the suspect shot the victim, who was attempting to call 911. That victim has been identified as Roland Scobee.

"We believe he may have been trying to kill his witnesses," Wilson said.

The victims' names have not been officially released. The suspect had no criminal history, but was involved in two prior calls for verbal domestic violence, according to police.

The suspect also had a concealed pistol license. Two weapons were found at the scene: a .40-caliber Taurus semi-automatic pistol, and a pistol-grip Mossberg 500 pump shotgun with a four-round saddle.

As per standard procedure, eight Federal Way police officers were placed on paid administrative leave. The case is under investigation by the Auburn Police Department and the Valley Investigation Team, a partnership among neighboring police departments that handles officer-involved shootings. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is also assisting in the investigation.

FYI

• The city will host a meeting for residents of Pinewood Village Apartments who need more resources or assistance. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, at Federal Way City Hall, 33325 8th Ave. S.

• Chief Wilson noted that the department received multiple inquiries from media outlets around the world, asking if there was a link to the recent Boston Marathon bombing tragedies. Wilson reiterated there was no connection.

• Federal Way reported three homicides total in 2012. In 2011, Federal Way reported its lowest crime rate in city history.

• "I will work with law enforcement to help provide any assistance they may need to keep our community safe,” said Congressman Adam Smith (D-District 9) in a news release.

(Pictured above: Scenes from Pinewood Village Apartments. Bottom photo: Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson leads a press conference Monday morning at City Hall. He is pictured with Deputy Chief Andy Hwang, Commander Kyle Sumpter, and Auburn Cmdr. Steve Stocker.)

 

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