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Sunday, June 4, 2023
June 4, 2023

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Barking dog sparked fatal Tacoma homeless encampment shooting near I-5, charges say


TACOMA — A shooting at a homeless encampment Tuesday in Tacoma that left a man and his dog dead began when the animal barked at the gunman in a tent, according to charging documents.

After the dog was shot, its alleged killer turned his weapon on the hound’s owner, records state.

Brandon Lee Archuleta, 36, was charged Wednesday in Pierce County Superior Court with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, first-degree animal cruelty and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

The 26-year-old man Archuleta is accused of shooting has not been publicly identified. Court records state the victim’s dog was named Tyson. Police said the shooting occurred at a camp near Interstate 5 in South Tacoma, in the area of South 74th Street and Tacoma Mall Boulevard. According to court documents, both the alleged gunman and the victim were living without housing.

Pleas of not guilty were entered on the defendant’s behalf at arraignment Wednesday afternoon. Commissioner Craig Adams set bail at $1 million.

Requesting that bail amount, deputy prosecutor Afton Gregson referred to the charges brought against Archuleta and described his criminal history in Pierce County, which she said included eight felony convictions from 2005 to 2014. According to court records, those convictions were for second-degree domestic-violence assault, possession of stolen property and drug charges among other offenses.

The shooting took place a day after a 30-year-old man was shot and seriously injured at a homeless encampment in downtown Tacoma, according to police. No arrests have been made in that incident. This killing was the seventh homicide in the city this year. Two more have occurred in Pierce County near Puyallup and Graham. At this time last year Tacoma had recorded nine homicides, and the total for the county was 22.

Tacoma Police Department responded to Tuesday’s shooting at about 11:23 a.m, according to the probable cause document. Officers found the victim lying in a pool of blood, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said Tacoma Animal Control took the dog to an emergency veterinarian, and the animal later died.

Officers arrested Archuleta hours later at a nearby RV, records state. Two witnesses to the shooting identified the defendant as the gunman in photo montages provided by detectives.

A single .22-caliber shell casing was found at the tent where the shooting happened, according to the probable cause document. After obtaining a search warrant for the RV, detectives found a .22-caliber pistol in the trailer’s sink in a plastic bag.

Archuleta declined to make a statement after his arrest. When told he was under arrest for murder, he allegedly replied. “Please, I didn’t [expletive] kill nobody,” records state.

Detectives interviewed the victim’s girlfriend, who said she was in the tent where he was shot. She told police she’d known Archuleta, who she referred to as “Clover,” for five to six months. She said they used to sleep in the same area in the South End.

The woman told detectives she’d been feeling anxious because “Clover” had been in the area, and her boyfriend thought she was attracted to him, according to the probable cause document. She said she was in the tent when her boyfriend came in and sat on a bed next to her to calm her down. The woman said that’s when “Clover” came to the tent, and the dog, Tyson, started barking.

“Clover” said something to the effect of, “Get your [expletive] dog!”, and then immediately shot the dog, the woman allegedly told detectives. “At that time, the victim got up off the bed and walked towards the door of the tent and said something to the effect of, ‘You just shot my [expletive] dog!’ Then ‘Clover’ shot the victim one time, causing the victim to fall backwards in the tent.”

The victim wasn’t armed and didn’t have anything in his hands, his girlfriend told detectives. A witness who was outside the tent reported he saw the victim’s arm come out of the tent just before the defendant backed up and shot him.