LAKEWOOD, WASH.: Authorities investigating the stabbing death of a Washington-based soldier said Monday they have arrested three other soldiers who serve at the same military installation.
The Lakewood Police Department said all five suspects in the stabbing of Tevin Geike, 20, are soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. At least two of the five suspects in the case are cooperating with law enforcement, authorities said.
One of the suspects, Jeremiah Hill, had asked for first aid Saturday for a knife wound on his right hand, according to police. Authorities said another soldier stated that Hill said he cut his hand when stabbing a guy to death over the weekend. Police said the soldier didn’t believe him initially, but told his sergeant about what happened.
Police described Hill, 23, as the “main suspect” in the case and said he did not make a statement and asked for a lawyer. Cedarium Johnson, 21, and Ajoni Runnion-Bareford, 21, were also booked into the Pierce County Jail on Monday morning, according to Lakewood police. Formal charges are pending.
Detectives had been investigating whether the stabbing was racially motivated — and potentially a hate crime — but said Monday after interviewing those involved that it does not appear that race was a factor.
Lakewood police had said Geike was walking with two friends when a car drove by and someone inside shouted a racial comment toward the white soldiers. Authorities said the soldiers shouted something back, and a group of five black men from the car stopped and surrounded the soldiers.
Police said the men in the car began to leave once they found out they were all active-duty soldiers, but one of the suspects appeared to bump into Geike as he walked past. Geike’s friends discovered he had been stabbed.
Police said one of the cooperating soldiers “told us that Hill was covered in blood when he got into the car and they discovered he had stabbed the victim and cut himself. They fled the scene and disposed of the knife. Another cooperative suspect ... is brought in as well and he corroborates the accounts given up to that point.”
Eventually, the vehicle was seized and barracks were searched, police said.
The case was turned over to the Pierce County prosecutor’s office, which will decide on charges.
The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.