SEATTLE - The Washington State Patrol (WSP) announced Friday that they arrested a suspect believed to be involved in a number of shootings that happened on South King County highways Wednesday night.
Six different drivers were shot at while driving on I-5, and the WSP believes the suspect they arrested, 28-year-old Marco Ramos Valdez of Auburn, at around 10:40 p.m. on Thursday may be responsible for "some" of the shootings.
First appearance court documents
According to court documents, two of the victims, a man and a woman, were driving southbound on I-5 just north of S 320th St. at around 9:21 p.m. when the suspect’s vehicle drove up alongside them.
The vehicle, described as a blue Nissan 370z, started matching speeds with them with the passenger’s side down. The victims heard a single gunshot, and a bullet flew through the driver’s side window, striking the man in the neck.
The woman was able to grab hold of the steering wheel, and both were able to pull over to the side of the road and call 911.
When first responders arrived, they transported the victim to Harborview Medical Center to remove the bullet, which had become lodged in his neck.
The female victim, who was six months pregnant, was uninjured, but taken to a nearby hospital for a healthcare check on her baby.
21 minutes after the first shooting, the WSP received another 911 call from a different driver whose car had been shot at by the same blue Nissan 370z in the Southcenter area of Tukwila.
The victim described the passenger as a white man in his 30s or 40s. When authorities came to inspect the victim's vehicle, they found a single gunshot in the driver’s side window.
On Dec. 7, detectives began reviewing traffic cameras, searching for the suspect vehicle. Eventually, they spotted the blue Nissan 370z and obtained the license plate number which led them to the owner, 28-year-old Marco Ramos Valdez.
That night, officers located the Nissan at an address in Auburn and remained in the area. At around 10:36 p.m., the vehicle left the residence and passed by the officers with the driver’s side window rolled down. Officers were able to see the driver, and his appearance matched the suspect's description.
Officers pulled Ramos Valdez over and took him into custody. In doing so, the driver’s side door was open, and officers spotted a black handgun on the floorboard and loose ammunition around the car. They also found a spent bullet casing in the rear cargo area.
When Ramos Valdez was interviewed, he told detectives that for the last nine months, he had been hearing voices telling him to drive and that they were going to kill him. He told detectives that he spoke about this with his siblings, but they did not understand.
Ramos Valdez said that he took the gun from his brother’s room less than a week ago and he did so to protect his friends and family.
Detectives spoke with Ramos Valdez’s sister, who confirmed he told her he had been hearing voices about five months ago.
Before the WSP's Friday announcement, detectives were working to determine if all six shootings were connected, or if these six random shootings coincidentally happened in one night. The shootings happened over the course of a little more than three hours.
Initially, WSP reported four separate shootings. The agency then sent out an update saying two additional victims reported being shot at while driving. Starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday, someone shot at a driver on southbound I-5 near Southcenter and another from SR-518.
One man was rushed to the hospital, while three others were traumatized by the experience.
"Yesterday evening, we had a total of four, which is alarming," said Trooper Rick Johnson with Washington State Patrol (WSP). "We received a 911 call from, I believe, the passenger in the vehicle," Trooper Johnson said. "They were driving south on I-5 between 272nd and 320th in the Kent-Federal Way area."
WSP said a car pulled up next to them and fired one shot.
"[It] went through the driver's side window, stuck the driver in the neck," Trooper Johnson said.
The passenger in that driver's car called 911 and told WSP they saw a white man in his 30s or 40s driving alone in the car.
WSP said the witness described the car as a newer two-door blue Nissan sports car, possibly a 350Z or 370Z model. They added that the car had an aftermarket spoiler attached on the back with chrome rims.
A photo shared by Trooper Johnson clearly showed the bullet hole right through the driver's side window. That was not the last of the shootings, either.
"Got another call from an individual that said they were shot at," Trooper Johnson said.
This was the second shooting of the evening near the 200th exit on northbound I-5.
"They described the exact same vehicle," Trooper Johnson said.
That witness also told WSP the suspect took off heading north on Interurban Avenue in the Tukwila area.
"At about 10:30 p.m. we received another call from an individual that was traveling southbound SR-167 near Ellingson, which is just north of the King County line," Trooper Johnson said.
Victims in this car told the WSP they were also shot at. Police later confirmed two bullet holes in their car.
"An individual called us, told us they were traveling behind this pick-up," Trooper Johnson said. "Thought they were possibly impaired, so they passed that vehicle. Truck started to follow them and as the truck took the exit on 320th fired a round of them."
(Washington State Patrol)
Fortunately, that fourth vehicle didn't get hit by bullets.
According to WSP, investigators believe the first two shootings were the same suspect driving the same car, based on what witnesses told them.
This brings the total number of road shootings so far in King County this year to at least 48. Last year, WSP reported the county ended 2022 with 54 road shootings.
Detectives don't know what led up to these shootings – if it was road rage-related or not. They said, however, no matter how frustrated you get while driving, never try to retaliate. You never know what someone has in their car.
"If you see or are driving behind someone who is aggressive, back off," Trooper Johnson said. "Don't teach them a lesson or flash your lights or honk. Just let them go. Call us. We get calls like this all the time. We do our best to intercept and find these vehicles, so we can address the issue."
If you were driving on either I-5 or SR-167 Wednesday night and noticed a car driving quickly or aggressively, WSP wants you to call them. The agency told FOX 13 that investigators were able to collect some evidence and local police stations are combing through surveillance video. However, they need the public's help in getting this person or people off the roads.