Stars Bar shooting suspect identified; bartenders honored in celebration of life

Federal Way Police have identified the 31-year-old man accused of killing two bartenders and injuring another customer in a shooting outside of the Stars Bar & Grill earlier in May.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Samuel Ramirez Jr. on May 24 with first- and second-degree murder and attempted murder. A warrant has been issued for Ramirez Jr.’s arrest and police are actively searching for him.

Cellphone records indicate Ramirez Jr. left the state after the fatal shootings, according to charging documents. His last known address is in Compton, California.

His bail is set at $5 million. If Ramirez Jr. is able to post bail, he will be placed on electronic home detention with tracking, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Police say Ramirez Jr. is armed and dangerous, and should not be approached. Anyone with information about Ramirez Jr. or his location is encouraged to call 911.

A memorial at Stars Bar & Grill includes photos, cards, flowers and trinkets set in reverence of Jessyca Hohn and Katie Duhnke, who were killed just outside the bar May 21. Alex Bruell / The Mirror

A memorial at Stars Bar & Grill includes photos, cards, flowers and trinkets set in reverence of Jessyca Hohn and Katie Duhnke, who were killed just outside the bar May 21. Alex Bruell / The Mirror

Celebration of Life

On Tuesday, May 30, Stars held an emotional celebration of life for Jessyca Hohn and Katie Duhnke, the two bartenders killed at the bar.

The parking lot was packed. The bar was filled. Inside, family, friends and strangers shared memories — and tequila shots — in honor of two of the stars of the Stars Bar & Grill.

Katie and Jessyca were close friends and roommates, whom friends and co-workers remembered as wonderful people: Katie, a tough person who wasn’t afraid to fall in love, and Jessyca Hohn, a bubbly, loving mom and hard worker.

Stars manager Danielle Macready has known Katie Duhnke for nearly two decades, and helped get Duhnke a job at the bar over a year ago.

Duhnke “was a little pitbull,” Macready said, tough with a hoarse voice and a lot of love.

“We loved Katie,” Macready said. “All of us loved Katie.”

“They were so loved,” Macready said. “They were known.”

Bartender Terra Weishaar had worked with Hohn since January. Hohn was “bubbly, all the time,” Weishaar said, a happy person and hard worker who’d have “little ditzy moments,” too.

She was “happy,” Weishaar said. “Loved to work, loved to dance, loved to dress up with me. We used to wear matching dresses every Friday. … She was a very sweet person, very kind. She cared what other people thought, or how they were feeling. She never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings. She was a sweetheart. I loved her.”

She wouldn’t walk away from someone who wanted to talk to her, Weishaar said, and she was selfless with what she had.

“At the end of the night, she’d try to give me more money. We’d split everything 50-50. But she’d try to give me more money; she’d say, ‘Well, you don’t take breaks. So you deserve this more than I do.’”

And she loved her 14-year-old son, Lucas, more than anything, Weishaar said.

Hohn and Duhnke “both just had huge hearts,” she said. “They lived together, they did everything together. Even on Fridays, when I just worked with Jessyca, Katie was here all night. They drove together. She’d help us close up, help me clean tables.”

The community support that night was evidence of the “family” at Stars, Weishaar said.

Macready said the fact that so many showed up Wednesday night proved people know Stars isn’t a bad or dangerous bar, and she wants the public to know it’s safe — not defined by the horrific act that took place in the parking lot last week.

“You can ask all these people in here right now,” Macready said. “They’ll tell you this is Cheers. You can be old, fat, gay, white, Black, it doesn’t matter. Everybody in this bar gets along. And I hope the community does know … that this is a good place. … My boss has owned this (bar) for more than 30 years. Nothing like this has ever happened.”

Weishaar concurred. Even though the bar is located at 312th Street and Pacific Highway, a corner of town that sees its fair share of crime, Stars felt different, she said.

“For some reason, we were always this little protected spot in Federal Way, where nothing like that ever happened,” Weishaar said. “I think that’s why it affected people so much.”

Like others at the bar Wednesday, Macready said the killer should take responsibility for his actions and turn himself in.

“Whatever made him decide he’s going to pull out a gun and murder people, there’s nobody that can explain that besides him,” she said. “He made that decision.”

Teena Nelson, who has owned Stars for 33 years, said she’s been struck by the outpouring of community love and support.

“With all the hate out there, I’ve found there’s more love than hate,” she said.

Details emerge on shooting

Around 3:30 a.m. May 21, police responded to 31216 Pacific Highway S. for reports of a shooting at the bar, according to police records. The two employees, identified as 37-year-old Katie Duhnke and 38-year-old Jessyca Hohn, died at the scene.

According to charging documents, the third victim, a customer, told police the suspect — identified as Ramirez Jr. — got into a dispute with one of the women and allegedly hit her.

The customer said less than an hour before the killings, he saw Ramirez Jr. with a gun. The customer told Duhnke and Hohn about the gun, which reportedly led to the women confronting Ramirez Jr., documents state.

The customer intervened and pushed Ramirez Jr. away and tackled him to the ground. He held Ramirez Jr. down until the suspect said he was done fighting.

When Ramirez Jr. stood up, he allegedly pulled out a handgun from his pocket and shot both of the women.

Duhnke was shot first, once in the head, according to the medical examiner’s autopsy. Ramirez Jr. allegedly shot Hohn in the back and head from behind as she was on the ground and he stood above her, documents state. Ramirez Jr. then allegedly shot several rounds toward the customer as he ran away from the scene.

An unidentified witness allegedly told police she was planning to go on a date with Ramirez Jr. the morning of May 21, but Ramirez Jr. texted to cancel around 4:24 a.m., saying he had made a big mistake and that she would read about it on the news.

Receipt transactions from the bar that night showed the suspect’s name and additional security footage showed a man matching Ramirez Jr.’s description.

Autopsy reports from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office show Duhnke died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Hohn died from three gunshot wounds, entering from the back, and one additional gunshot wound to the back of her head. Both deaths are ruled as homicides.

Police are searching for Samuel Ramirez Jr. Photo courtesy of the Federal Way Police Department

Police are searching for Samuel Ramirez Jr. Photo courtesy of the Federal Way Police Department