Teen accused of killing girl in WA mall shooting charged as adult, pleads not guilty

The 16-year-old boy accused of shooting and killing 13-year-old Jayda Woods-Johnson at Alderwood Mall a week ago is back in custody. Prosecutors have charged him as an adult.

Samuel Gizaw appeared in court Wednesday afternoon, facing charges of murder, assault, and possession of a firearm. The courtroom was filled with the families affected by this tragedy, including Jayda's family, who were visibly emotional.

"He does comprehend the nature of the allegations," said Gizaw's attorney. The accused shooter appeared attentive and seemingly unfazed; he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Jason Cummings emphasized the seriousness of the case, calling Gizaw's actions on July 3 "reckless and indifferent to human life" as he allegedly opened fire in the crowded mall. "Our community is hurting," Cummings said.

Despite the gravity of the charges, Gizaw's attorney commended him for turning himself in, noting he did so twice. However, the judge sided with prosecutors, setting bail at $2 million, a figure Jayda's family fears is not sufficient.

"$2 million bail is not enough. He was able to bond out and come up with over $50,000 in 24 hours. Who's to say we won't be here again?" asked one of Jayda's loved ones.

"There have to be harsher consequences for these teens. We lost our daughter, and nothing is going to bring her back," said Jayda's mother, Tabatha Johnson. "But there can be change. We can try, and that’s what we’re going to do."

Court documents revealed that Samuel's father was unaware of his son's access to firearms. However, social media posts showed Samuel posing with guns, including one with an extended magazine.

"I think it’s safe to say his family failed him, and they failed Jayda, and they failed us," said Johnson.

While Gizaw's family declined to comment, the prosecutor's office highlighted a troubling trend — the number of juvenile case referrals has been increasing in Snohomish County. The office reported 849 cases in 2020, 550 in 2021, 912 in 2022, 1,186 in 2023, and so far in 2024, there have been 938 cases. The trend suggests the numbers may more than double those of 2020 by the end of the year.

"It's a good time to start having conversations in Olympia about juvenile justice and what's working, what's not working," Cummings said.

Court documents also indicated that teens not involved in the shooting have boasted that police won't find the gun, as arrangements were allegedly made to dispose of it. Both family and police are pleading with those involved to come forward or for anyone with information to speak out.

Lynnwood Police detectives clarified Wednesday that anyone who voluntarily turns the gun in will not be arrested. Anyone who knows the weapon's location is urged to contact detectives at crimetips@lynnwoodwa.gov.

"My daughter should not be gone. She should be here," said Jayda's father, Jeremy Johnson. "She's not going to experience anything else in life."

"I want his family to know we’re not going anywhere," Johnson said. "This will not go away."

Police are also working to identify two girls who accompanied Gizaw to a movie at the mall, before the altercation and shooting took place.


Man with history of 33 arrest warrants goes on dangerous crime spree in WA

Seattle Mariners pitcher Logan Gilbert selected to 2024 MLB All-Star Game

SWAT team arrests DV shooting suspect in Seattle's Rainier Beach neighborhood

Snohomish County deputies respond to 3rd drowning at Eagle Falls this year

To get the best local news, weather and sports in Seattle for free, sign up for the daily FOX 13 Seattle newsletter.