Thursday, August 18, 2022
Aug. 18, 2022

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Bellevue man charged with murder in Bitter Lake double homicide


BELLEVUE — A 34-year-old Bellevue man was charged Wednesday with two counts of second-degree murder, accused of fatally shooting two men after an argument over a music video escalated into gunfire during a quinceañera Saturday in Seattle’s Bitter Lake neighborhood, according to King County prosecutors.

Juan Bonilla-Vasquez fled the shooting scene with his girlfriend and children but was arrested a short time later at the Seattle Police Department’s North Precinct, charging papers say. He remains jailed in lieu of $3 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned July 13.

Giovanni Tapia, 26, died at the scene from a gunshot wound to the chest and Janni Rodriguez, 33, who ran to his car to retrieve his own gun, was shot nine times, according to the charges. He also died at the scene.

The quinceañera — a celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday — was held at a small event center in the 900 block of North 145th Street for Bonilla-Vasquez’s girlfriend’s younger sister.

Witnesses told police that Tapia and Rodriguez had been drinking when they confronted Bonilla-Vasquez at around 10 p.m. about a music video he had posted on social media. Party guests intervened in the ensuing argument, separating the men, the charges say. As Bonilla-Vasquez walked toward an exit, Tapia and Rodriguez followed him and Bonilla-Vasquez pointed a handgun at Tapia’s chest, then fired it after Tapia, who was unarmed, swung his arm at Bonilla-Vasquez or his gun, say the charges.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez — who had a concealed pistol license — ran from the building to his car, presumably to grab his own handgun, according to the charges.

As Bonilla-Vasquez and his family walked south on Linden Avenue North toward his vehicle, Rodriguez appeared. A passerby, who had not attended the celebration, later told police that the two men may have exchanged gunfire before Bonilla-Vasquez shot Rodriguez, then ran to his car and fled the scene, say the charges. Officers found Rodriguez face down on the sidewalk with a handgun between his legs.

While officers were still at the shooting scene, Bonilla-Vasquez — who also had a concealed pistol license and had been identified by witnesses as the gunman — called 911 and claimed he had just been robbed, charging papers say. Officers told a dispatcher to ask Bonilla-Vasquez to go to the North Precinct to file a robbery report and he was taken into custody when he arrived, say the charges.

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