White Center shooting suspect charged with first-degree murder
25-year-old Cu Van Truong will be in court on January 12th to answer a charge of first-degree murder. That charge was announced this afternoon by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which says Truong shot and killed 24-year-old Jason Saechao at Seattle Roll Bakery in the 9800 block of 16th SW early Wednesday. Truong remains in jail, with bail set at $1 million. We’re reviewing court documents now for additional details beyond what was contained in the “probable cause” documents, summarized in our report yesterday following the bail-setting hearing, and will add whatever we find.
ADDED 2:29 PM: New details – Investigators say three people were there, besides the suspect and victim. The charging documents detail the story that investigators were originally told about the shooting happening in the course of a robbery. One of the witnesses said that Saechao “had been badmouthing Cu around town and that Saechao said he wanted to apologize to him for doing that. (She) said she went to the bakery with Saechao and that (another witness) was already there working. She said Cu called her and she put Saechao on the phone so he could apologize. She said Cu arrived at the bakery and that Saechao and Cu went outside and argued. She said they came in and that Cu shot Saechao. She said she initially lied about the shooting because before Cu left the bakery after the shooting, he threatened to harm anyone who said anything.”
The documents go on to say that the other witness “was called back to the scene” and re-interviewed after being told the new story about what happened. At that time, he changed his story and said it had to do with a relationship between him and the aforementioned female witness, who he had been dating while Saechao was in jail. The argument, this witness said, started with a necklace that his mother was paying for but that he said Saechao took from “as payback for being with (the female witness),” according to the court documents. When Truong showed up the morning of the shooting, documents say, he “told Saechao to ‘Give his little homie back his necklace’,” at which time the male witness reportedly told Truong to stay out of his business.
As Truong and Saechao continued to argue, prosecutors say, “Truong turned and pulled a handgun from his waistband and began shooting at Saechao. (The male witness) said it looked like Truong shot Saechao first in the leg and that he walked to the side of Saechao and shot him several more times and finally in the head.” (Court documents say the autopsy showed Saechao was shot four times.)
After detailing how the witnesses decided to make up the robbery story because Truong threatened them, the male and female witnesses told investigators that Truong had left the bakery in a ’90s 500-series white BMW.
Detectives found that car at Truong’s sister’s house, which was put under surveillance, and when three people got into it and left, it was stopped, and Truong was arrested.
Subsequently interviewed by detectives, he denied being at the bakery that morning, denied shooting Saechao, and said he doesn’t carry guns. His sister, though, said she had seen him with one about a month ago. She also said she got a phone call from one of the witnesses at 7 am that morning saying that Truong had killed Saechao. At that point, the sister said, she called her brother, who said he was in the High Point area (where he lives) and asked her to pick him up, but she said she never asked him about what the female witness had told her in the earlier call.
Truong’s record is described in court documents as three robbery convictions in 2006, a conviction for false reporting in 2006, one for residential burglary in 2003, and one for taking a motor vehicle in 2003.
Since the court documents mentioned the victim having been in jail, ostensibly recently, we checked on that: King County Jail online records show he was there for about a month, released on December 22nd, and had three other month-long stays in KCJ earlier in the year, mostly on drug charges.
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