Stare, gesture may have led to Pacific slaying
3 men face charges in shooting
By LEVI PULKKINEN
King County prosecutors have filed charges against three men accused in Friday's deadly shooting at a Pacific community center.
Alleged shooter Sopheatheara Kim, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting, which left 21-year-old Shiloh Drott dead. Two other men, Chatri Lime Thip, 19, and Salomon Nora Phe, 20, were charged with rendering criminal assistance for their alleged roles in the killing.
Just before 9 p.m., Kim fired at least eight rounds into the community center while attempting to shoot two men who'd offended him earlier, according to police.
At the time, the community center, at 100 Third Ave. S.E., was packed with young adults attending an event sponsored by the Valley Bible Church.
Investigators have yet to determine whether Kim targeted Drott or shot him while attacking another of the 30-or-so people at the community center, said Ian Goodhew, a King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman. But, according to police reports, an errant stare may have sparked the shooting.
Prosecutors allege that Thip told police he and Kim were walking into a convenience store near the community center when they crossed paths with two other men.
Kim became irate when one of the men stared at him, asserting that the man was "mean mugging" him.
Kim and Thip followed the men to the community center, where Kim positioned himself near a window, according to police.
Kim then began waving his arms at another man in the center, asking for a fight.
The man extended his middle finger, prompting Kim to draw a 9 mm pistol. When the man repeated the offensive hand gesture, prosecutors say Kim opened fire.
One round struck Drott in the chest, causing a fatal wound to his heart. Another attendee suffered a slight grazing wound to his thigh.
Goodhew said investigators haven't determined if Drott was the one who'd exchanged hand gestures with Kim, or who Kim was targeting when he opened fire.
"The detectives and the prosecutors think there is some connection with the 'mean mugging' incident, but it's not really clear," Goodhew said.
Kim, recently of Kent, and Thip fled in an SUV driven by Phe to Thip's home, which was located nearby. Several witnesses saw the pair flee, and, according to police, one saw the shooting occur.
Thip and Kim were arrested at a nearby home hours later, following a three-hour standoff with police.
Phe, whose listed address is the same as Thip's, was arrested the following morning.
Kim faces 26 to 32 years in prison if convicted as charged, in part because of previous convictions for car theft, drug possession and domestic violence. Police say he is a member of the Tiny Rascals Gang, a SeaTac-based youth gang.
Thip and Phe face one year to 14 months in prison if convicted as charged. All three defendants remain in custody and are scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 2 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.