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News / Northwest

Seattle man accused of chasing, killing would-be car thief

By Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times
Published: March 30, 2023, 7:47am

SEATTLE — A 45-year-old Seattle man took “extraordinary steps” to evade capture for five months after an October car chase and shooting that killed one man and injured a second, according to prosecutors.

Aaron Javan Mitchell, who was arrested Thursday after Seattle police detectives tracked him to a house in Federal Way, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. He remains jailed in lieu of $3 million bail.

Mitchell is accused of instigating a car chase through Seattle’s Yesler Terrace neighborhood and firing at the driver of a stolen tow truck who had allegedly tried to steal Mitchell’s SUV early Oct. 7, charging papers say. At the time of the shooting, Mitchell had a valid concealed pistol license and was the registered owner of several firearms, including a .40-caliber handgun, say the charges.

Joshua Blackwood, 27, died from a gunshot wound to the upper back and had injuries to his head consistent with being pistol whipped, the charges say. His killing is one of 55 homicides the Seattle Police Department investigated in 2022, a figure that was up from 41 the year before.

Blackwood’s 53-year-old passenger was treated for a gunshot wound to his arm.

In the aftermath of the shooting, prosecutors suspect Mitchell torched the car he was driving during the chase, granted a friend power of attorney so she could clear out his apartment, and bailed on weekly classes he was required to take after suffering a workplace injury, according to the charges.

Several people called 911 just before 4:30 a.m. Oct. 7 to report gunfire, and police found a man later identified as Blackwood lying in an alley off East Fir Street, between 11th and 12th avenues, the charges say. He died at the scene, and his injured passenger was found nearby. Police also discovered a tow truck that had been stolen in Shoreline stuck on concrete blocks at the south end of the alley, say the charges.

Blackwood’s passenger later told police he had visited Blackwood earlier in the day in Lake City. Blackwood offered to drive the man home but stopped along the way in the 1700 block of South Jackson Street to check on a Chevrolet Tahoe that Blackwood had earlier stripped of its stereo and thought had been abandoned, the charges say.

After Blackwood twice tried and failed to start the Tahoe’s engine, he ended up driving past the SUV for a third time — and then took off after his passenger saw a man he assumed was the Tahoe’s owner standing by the vehicle, according to the charges.

The man gave chase in a black sedan and fired at the tow truck as Blackwood drove the vehicle through various neighborhoods before ending up near the 53-year-old’s apartment building on East Fir Street, say the charges. When the tow truck got stuck on the concrete blocks, the 53-year-old told police he ran through the alley and was shot from behind. He didn’t know what happened to Blackwood but heard several gunshots, charging papers say.

One witness told police he saw a man get out of a sedan and shoot into the cabin of the tow truck. The man began to walk away but then returned and again fired into the tow truck, say the charges.

Though the fatal shooting wasn’t captured on video, police reviewed video footage from nearby buildings that captured parts of the car chase. Police also found several .40-caliber shell casings by the alley where Blackwood died and on nearby East Alder Street. All of the casings appeared to have been fired from the same gun, the charges say.

Police found the Tahoe, which was registered to Mitchell, parked on the street outside his apartment building a half-mile from the shooting scene, the charges say. The driver’s door was ajar, a screwdriver was on the driver’s seat and the ignition appeared to have been tampered with, say the charges.

Detectives learned Mitchell was an apprentice in the water department at Seattle Public Utilities but was on workers’ compensation for an injury, that he never returned to his apartment after the fatal shooting, and that the friend who cleared out his belongings was also the owner of a black sedan that was found torched in Auburn less than 24 hours after Blackwood was killed, charging papers say.

The same friend recently bought the house in Federal Way where Mitchell was arrested last week, the charges say.

Mitchell is scheduled to be arraigned April 6.