Tevin Geike, 20, a soldier from Joint Base Lewis McChord, died from his injuries on Oct. 5 after he was stabbed.
(Photo: KIRO TV 7)
Three men were arrested Monday in connection with the fatal stabbing of a white soldier in a Tacoma suburb in what police initially thought might be a racially motivated "hate crime," according to local media.
The three suspects, like the the victim, Tevin Geike, are soldiers at nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Police in Lakewood, Wash., said initially that it appeared that the fatal stabbing "could have been a hate crime," The (Tacoma) News Tribunereports.
Police suggested the confrontation appeared to be triggered by five men in a car shouting racial epithets at Geike, and two fellow soldiers, who were walking along the highway.
The initial reports also described the five as black males. Police now say there were four black males and an Hispanic male in the car.
Regardless, a confrontation erupted between the two groups and Geike, a soldier from Summerville, S.C., who was enroute to a party to celebrate his imminent discharge, was stabbed near the heart and died at the scene.
The three were booked into Pierce County Jail on investigation of murder charges, Seattle's KIRO-TV reports.
Detectives were tipped to the whereabouts of the suspects by a soldier who informed his sergeant that a fellow soldier had a hand wound consistent with a stabbing incident. The suspect said at one point that he had cut himself while chopping vegetables at another point said he injured it parachute cord, according to KIRO.
Police said the suspect later acknowledged the incident and the disposal of a knife. KIRO said a second soldier corroborated his story.
KIRO and The News Tribune also report that Lakewood police, after interviewing those involved on both sides, do not believe race was a motivating factor.
Here's how the newspaper describes it:
The crime does not appear to be racially motivated, although police initially believed it may have been because of the comment yelled about the soldiers being "white boys." When detectives interviewed the victims and the suspects, (Lakewood police spokesman Chris) Lawler said nobody could remember the exact comment and race was never discussed during the confrontation. Geike and the soldier who stabbed him never spoke during the altercation.
Earlier, Matthew Barnes, a soldier who was holding Geike in his arms when he died, told KIRO that someone in the car had yelled "cracker" and "white" at the soldiers numerous times.
"I yelled back, 'So this is how we treat combat veterans now?' But we weren't looking for trouble, and trouble found us anyway," Barnes said. "And when police find them, I hope to God we get justice."