SEATTLE — A soldier out with his friends was fatally stabbed on a Lakewood street early Saturday, and investigators were examining whether the attack was a racially motivated hate crime.
The 20-year-old was walking with two of his friends from Joint Base Lewis-McChord when a car drove by and someone inside shouted a racial comment toward the white soldiers, the Lakewood Police Department said. The soldiers shouted something back, and the car stopped, and five black men got out and surrounded the soldiers, authorities said.
Police said the men from the car began to leave when one realized the soldiers were combat veterans, but one of the five appeared to bump into the victim as he walked past. As the car left, the soldier fell to the ground, and his friends discovered he had been stabbed.
The soldier died at the scene. Authorities declined to release his name until his family could be notified.
Nature of crime
The initial remark that started the encounter was a brief comment about "white guys" that seemed derogatory in nature, said Lakewood police Lt. Chris Lawler. He said it was too early to say that race was the motivating factor, but investigators were exploring whether the killing should be classified as a hate crime.
"We are certainly considering it, for sure," Lawler said.
Detectives were in the area Saturday looking for businesses or individuals who might have video from around the time of the stabbing. Lawler said the person who stabbed the soldier should come forward and show remorse now.
"He's going to get caught," Lawler said. "Nobody's going to give up until we catch up."
Authorities said the suspects are in their 20s and were in a dark blue sedan with tinted windows and low-profile tires.