Victims Say "Mean-Mugging" Led to Fatal Shooting

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee December 27, 2011

A minor confrontation was all it took to spark a quadruple shooting which left one woman dead in South Seattle last July, according to newly released police records.

Police haven't officially said what led to the July 13 shooting at 54th Ave S. and S. Roxbury—which left 19-year-old Tanaya Gilbert dead and three others wounded—but the incident brought about community outcry about violence in South Seattle, and at least one retaliatory shooting. Now, a police search warrant affidavit reveals Gilbert's death was apparently the result of an altercation at a nearby gas station several weeks earlier.

Around 11 pm on July 13, Gilbert and eight other men and women were hanging out on 54th Ave. and Roxbury that evening, when a man walked up to them and "without provocation and without saying anything," opened fire, according to police records. [pullquote]The incident brought about community outcry about violence in South Seattle, and at least one retaliatory shooting.[/pullquote]

Two men were struck in the legs and bullet hit one man's shoe in the initial round of gunfire. The gunman then walked up to Gilbert's car, leaned into an open window, and filed several shots, killing Gilbert and wounding one of her friends. The gunman then walked a half-block down the street and pointed his gun at another person and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not go off.

The gunman had a hood pulled over his head, but when one of the victims called 911 he said he recognized the shooter as a man he'd had a recent "problem with at a nearby gas station," police say. Victims identified the gunman to police as Kenneth Harding, 19, who was later killed in San Francisco after he exchanged gunfire with transit officers in an unrelated incident, according to police.

Several of the Seattle shooting victims told police they had run into Harding several weeks earlier while hanging out at a gas station at Rainier and Othello. The victims told police Harding walked up at them and began "mean-mugging"—or making threatening looks—at them. The group of friends exchanged words with Harding, who walked off.

The group saw Harding again on the night of the shooting when he walked past them on the street.

The victims told police Harding recognized them from their previous encounter at the gas station asked if they had any "chiva," or heroin, and left.

About twenty minutes later, a hooded man walked up to the group, and opened fire. The victims told police they believed Harding was the shooter, and SPD's affidavit also says Harding's cell phone records place him at the scene of the shooting.

Police have identified Harding as a "person of interest" in Gilbert's death. However, it appears the case still remains open and technically unsolved, as police have not officially named him has Gilbert's killer.
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