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Friday, December 1, 2023
Dec. 1, 2023

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Radio traffic played during trial of man accused in Clark County sheriff’s sergeant’s death

Accused driver in sheriff’s sergeant’s death faces murder charge

By , Columbian staff reporter

The last thing Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Jeremy Brown’s fellow detectives heard from him was a radioed description of two women on the back patio of an east Vancouver apartment he was surveilling. The description was followed by a quick transmission from his radio, but nothing could be heard.

Jurors in the felony murder trial for Abran Raya Leon listened to the radio transmissions Wednesday afternoon, up to and following Brown’s shooting death. Raya Leon, 30, the alleged getaway driver in the shooting, is charged with second-degree murder, possession of a stolen firearm and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm in Clark County Superior Court. His brother, Guillermo Raya Leon, 28, is the alleged shooter.

During the week, several detectives testified they heard gunshots in the area, but none of them knew where they had come from. And none of them thought Brown might be hurt.

It wasn’t until neighbors called 911 and detectives realized Brown wasn’t responding on his radio that they thought something had gone wrong.

The week’s testimony largely centered around the events of July 23, 2021, at the apartment complex: the surveillance of Abran Raya Leon; his wife, Misty Raya, 37; and his brother in connection with a cache of stolen guns and ammunition, and the police chase that followed the shooting as the trio sped away from the complex.

Brown’s family — including his wife, Jill Brown — sat in the gallery’s front row with tissues in hand as they listened to the testimony. Several deputies who watched the first week of trial came and went, many pausing to place a hand on Jill Brown’s shoulder on their way out.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Sofianos, who was supervising the detective team Jeremy Brown was a part of that day, choked up as he recounted approaching Brown’s unmarked red Jeep and finding him inside. He took pauses before telling the jury he called out Brown’s name and checked his pulse.

“I’ve seen a lot of deceased people in my career,” Sofianos said, as he described Brown’s condition. “And that was my immediate impression of what I was looking at.”

Learning of the shooting

A minute after Brown’s final radio transmission, at 6:49 p.m., sheriff’s Detective Rodrigo Osorio radioed that the Toyota Sequoia they’d previously connected to Abran Raya Leon, his brother and his wife was moving.

Detectives radioed about following the Sequoia and called out directions. One deputy could be heard saying the Sequoia appeared to be in a hurry, and he thought the team must have been spotted. At that point, deputies still didn’t know Brown had been shot, they testified.

A few minutes later, sheriff’s Sgt. Gregory Agar could be heard noting radio traffic on another channel about a disturbance with a weapon reported at the apartment complex. At that point, he said over the radio that he had heard shots earlier.

Another detective called over the radio for “JB.” Vancouver police Sgt. Tim Martin came onto the detectives’ radio channel and said the reported disturbance indicated that an officer may have been involved. He asked if the detective team was OK.

Another detective called for Brown over the radio, asking if he was all right. When there was no response, it “began to click” that Brown was likely the shooting victim, deputies testified.

Agar flew a drone that the team had been using for surveillance over Brown’s Jeep and radioed that it did not look good.

Several neighbors in the apartment complex testified about hearing the gunshots and calling 911 after finding broken glass around the Jeep. Their details of the incident conflicted, such as the number of shots they heard, the position of Brown’s gun and laptop, and any damage to surrounding vehicles.

Stolen guns

Osorio testified about surveilling the front of the apartment, where the Sequoia was parked. Prosecutors showed the jury Osorio’s photos of Abran Raya Leon and Guillermo Raya Leon carrying bags from the Sequoia into the suspect apartment before the shooting. Prosecutors said they believe the bags contained multiple guns stolen from a Hazel Dell storage unit. They also said they believe the gun Guillermo Raya Leon used to shoot Brown was stolen.

Photos of items officers seized when they searched the apartment showed thousands of rounds of ammunition, mostly in boxes, inside bags and metal ammo cans. Some of the boxes were for the caliber that prosecutors say Brown was shot with, and one of the boxes shown was missing some rounds.

The trial is scheduled to continue Monday with more state’s witnesses and is scheduled to last through the week.

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