JBLM soldier pleads not guilty, held on $1 million bail in shooting, attempted carjackings

TACOMA -- Investigators said Monday it’s still a mystery why a 22-year-old Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier allegedly went on a crime spree that terrorized a Tillicum neighborhood last week.

Police said Jesse Suhanec, an active-duty soldier at JBLM, tried carjacking two people, shooting one man several times on Thursday.

Investigators believe the crime spree started after he allegedly stole a fellow soldier’s gun and an army vehicle off base.

The man he allegedly shot is now in a medically induced coma and still in critical condition.

“We don’t know (what) the big picture motive here is,” said Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

Investigators said Suhanec opened fire on a stranger, hoping to steal his truck.  Court documents allege Suhanec shot Kevin Anthony in the head and shoulders. Anthony managed to drive himself to a nearby fast food parking lot and laid on the horn to call for help.

”There’s no connection that we know of between the victim and the defendant,” said Lindquist. “It appears the victim was selected at random.”

The manhunt lasted for hours. Court documents said Suhanec stripped his clothes and covered himself in mud to avoid police dogs and SWAT teams. He later surrendered to neighbors, ending the daylong manhunt.

In court, Suhanec pleaded not guilty to assault, burglary and robbery charges.

“The victim’s in critical condition; we don’t know much more than that other than we’re sending prayers,” said Lindquist.

Suhanec allegedly admitted to police that he only wanted to take Anthony’s truck, but that the situation got out of control and then his military training took over.

The soldier is being held in the Pierce County Jail in lieu of  $1 million bail.