Puyallup Police hold meeting over 3 teens charged in February murder

A months-long investigation in Puyallup led to three teenage boys charged with second-degree murder. Before their arrests, however, questions rose throughout the community about the random shooting in February that killed 22-year-old Gianna Stone, and why it was taking so long to find answers.

"Everybody wants to know the details of the case, and those are things we can’t always share," said Cpt. Kevin Gill of Puyallup Police.

Now that the suspects, a 17-year-old and two 18-year-olds, were charged with murder, the Puyallup Police Department opened the opportunity to share some details about the extensive investigation leading to the arrests. Wednesday, officials hosted a meeting with neighbors who lived closest to the shooting scene to provide clarity on the case.

"We’re committed to transparency, we’re committed to making sure we are good communicators with the citizens of Puyallup," said Gill. "We want to highlight that we’re there for our community, we’re there to communicate with them and be transparent. But we also want to highlight the good police work that happened."

It was Feb. 25 in a Puyallup neighborhood near Sam Peach Park. Police said Gianna, from Kingston, was riding in an SUV with other people. They stopped in the neighborhood to use the park’s restroom. Detectives said the teen suspects approached the SUV attempting to rob everyone at gunpoint. 

When the driver sped off, at least one of the suspects fired shots. A bullet hit Gianna in the head while she was in the back seat. The 22-year-old was taken to a hospital in Tacoma but did not survive.

For months, police searched for the gunmen while questions grew from the community. It wasn’t until June 4 when Pierce County Metro Cities SWAT team, along with Valley SWAT, made the arrests. Their big break in the case happened right before. After the February murder, the suspect vehicle was involved in a serious crash near the Washington State Fairgrounds while trying to avoid a traffic stop. A patrol officer recognized the suspect vehicle based on descriptions from the shooting and alerted detectives.

Court documents said further investigation revealed the vehicle from the serious crash was the same vehicle caught on surveillance camera leaving the scene of the February shooting. Cellphone data also placed the suspects in the neighborhood where the shots were fired.

"This was kind of floor-to-ceiling police work. This wasn’t just detectives and just patrol," said Gill. "It was a proactive police work that really gave us a good lead on this case, and that came from the graveyard worker in the patrol car. And that’s important that we share it."

The 17-year-old was arraigned in juvenile court at Remann Hall, while both 18-year-olds were charged as adults in Pierce County Superior Court. All of them have been charged on counts including second-degree murder, first-degree assault, first-degree robbery, drive-by shooting and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Gill said Wednesday’s community discussion focused mostly on this case, but officials were also prepared to answer questions about the rise in young people involved in violent crimes throughout the region.

"We want to give a real-life picture of what crime in that neighborhood and crime in our community is really like and not do it over social media comments," said Gill. "When they get to talk to us and ask us some questions and we get to sit down and talk about our process to them, I think that makes a big impact."


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