By Jackson Holtz
For The Associated Press
EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The problems started when they stole a car. The wrong car. An Asian gangster’s car.
They tried to make amends and give the car back, but they screwed up again and wound up getting beaten with baseball bats in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
One of the suspected thieves was hurt so badly that he was in a coma for several days, with head injuries and broken bones in his face.
A string of wrong turns that began in early July landed one man behind bars. More arrests are expected.
It all began on July 8 when four young men set out with a plan. One told the others he had “done his homework on a car they could steal,” according to a search warrant.
Things started to go wrong when the men tried unsuccessfully to use a shaved key to open the door of a Honda Civic parked in south Everett, the search warrant said. They caught a break when they realized the passenger door was unlocked.
Inside the car, the men found an AK-47 assault rifle and what appeared to be a 9 mm pistol. They took the guns, the car’s stereo, and other valuables, the warrant said.
Then they went hunting for a garage where they could dismantle the rest of the car in private. They called a man known as “Turbo Chris,” the warrant said. Turbo said he was familiar with the stolen car.
Turbo reportedly told the men that they “did not want to mess” with the car’s owner because that man was involved in an Asian street gang, the warrant said.
Police believe the car’s owner, 22, and his brother, 20, are likely involved in a gang, Everett police Sgt. John DeRousse said.
“They are in a gang,” he said. “There’s no indication that the gang is targeting anybody other than people who stole their vehicles.”
The men who stole the car decided to try to return it that day. Turbo offered to be a go-between.
The car’s owner started calling the men who took his Honda. Returning the car apparently wasn’t good enough for him, the warrant said. He wanted payback and demanded a new set of wheels, rims, and other car parts.
“They were given the task of finding the parts, stealing them, and turning them over,” the warrant said.
That night, the men went hunting for a car to steal to repay the debt. After driving to Seattle with no success, they found a Honda Civic on Ash Way in Snohomish County, stole it, and parked it in Everett.
While the men slept, police found the stolen car and towed it away.
The men agreed to meet the first Honda’s owner in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart store on Evergreen Way, the warrant said. They’d already returned the man’s car, but because they couldn’t come up with the stolen rims and other parts on his shopping list, the men offered up one of their cars, an Acura Integra, as restitution.
The Honda’s owner and his brother reportedly took the car for a test drive and decided that they didn’t like it.
Later, the score was allegedly settled in what police believe was a group assault with bats, sticks, fists, and feet, according to a police affidavit.
Two men suffered serious injuries in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
One of the suspected thieves, 17, was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. According to court papers, he was in a coma for several days. He suffered three hemorrhages of the brain, a broken spine, multiple broken bones in his face, and severe eye damage.
On Tuesday, July 21, 11 days after the attack, the man was moved out of the intensive care unit, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The other man, 18, suffered several blows to his head, back, and arms with a baseball bat. He was treated and released from a hospital, a court document said.
On Thursday, police continued to look for the alleged gangster and his brother, DeRousse said.
Police on Wednesday arrested a 19-year-old Everett man reportedly involved in the assault. According to court paprs, he admitted to punching and kicking the man who suffered brain injuries.
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Edirin Okoloko told an Everett District Court judge Thursday that the assault was brutal.
He said the man who was arrested was brought into the attack as a mercenary and a thug. Okoloko asked the judge to set bail at $100,000.
The man’s public defender, Natalie Tarantino, argued the bail was too high. She said that this was the first time the man had been in criminal trouble.
The judge ordered the man held in lieu of $100,000 bail for investigation of first-degree assault.
DeRousse said the men who were injured may still find themselves in trouble with the law for the vehicle thefts.
“They’re criminals preying on criminals,” he said. ♦