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Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

Authorities say an off-duty guard is accused of killing a Seattle-area teenager after mistaking a toy for a gun

By meerna Jun12,2024

By MARTHA BELLISLE – Associated Press

An off-duty security guard has been charged with murder after authorities say he stopped three teenagers outside a Seattle-area store because they were in possession of what he thought was a firearm but was actually an airsoft gun.

King County prosecutors on Monday charged Aaron Brown Myers with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Hazrat Ali Rohani outside the Big 5 sporting goods store in Renton, Washington. Myers, 51, also faces a second-degree assault charge after authorities say he held another teenager at gunpoint.

Myers is being held in the King County Jail on $2 million bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 24 in Kent, Washington. His lawyer, Michelle Scudder, wrote in an email that she sincerely believes she is witnessing the beginning of a brutal crime and wants to stop it before anyone gets hurt.

“Mr. Myers and his family are devastated by this tragedy and the fact that a young man was killed as a result,” Scudder said. “We are confident that the evidence will demonstrate during the course of the investigation that Mr. Myers’ sole intention that day was to protect himself and others from serious harm or death.”

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Three teenagers went to the store on June 5 around 7:30 p.m. to return a faulty airsoft gun, of which two of them later notified the police. They passed in front of Myers, who later told police he had just been on duty as a “licensed” and “armed” security guard and was sitting in his vehicle waiting to pick up his son from martial arts class. It is unclear where Myers works. as a security guard.

Myers told police he noticed one teen carrying what he believed was a Glock handgun and thought he saw another teen put the gun in his waistband. Thinking he had to stop an armed robbery, Myers told police he didn’t have time to call 911 and instead got out of the car with a gun pointed at the teenagers.

Myers stated he had a “duty to intervene,” prosecutors said.

As Myers approached, one of the teens stepped aside and the other two stopped, raised their hands and one of them placed the replica on the sidewalk, repeatedly telling Myers it was a “BB gun” and not a firearm.

Myers then pushed one of the boys onto the sidewalk and straddled him by the back of his jacket, according to a probable cause document prepared by Renton police. Police said Myers continued to point the firearm at Rohani while extending his hands in front of him, showing Myers that they were empty.

“The defendant failed to take the obvious step of securing the toy gun, instead attacking the teenager who was carrying it,” King County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Lauren Burke said in a court filing.

Rohani began to back away and veered slightly to the left, and Myers opened fire, hitting the teenager once in the right side and six times in the back. The video shows Rohani clutching her stomach as she falls to the ground and calls for her mother. The other teen ran for cover and called 911.

Rohani died at the scene, and police immediately took Myers into custody.

Although Myers had no criminal history or outstanding arrest warrants, prosecutors said the lengthy prison sentence he could face made him a flight risk, so they asked for $2 million bail.

“Only a high bond, electronic house arrest and the surrender of all firearms will protect the community from an untrained civilian who believes he has an obligation to shoot at people who haven’t hurt anyone,” Burke said.

Police said Myers tried to intervene in what he believed to be a crime in March 2022. He called 911 and told police he saw a person on a bicycle pointing a gun at people. He followed the person into the store until police arrived. The officers determined that the man did not have a weapon on him and did not pose a threat, the police added.

“In this case, the defendant attacked three teenagers who had committed no crime and escalated with increasing violence at each stage of the interaction, culminating in the defendant taking his life,” Rohani, 17, Burke said.

Copyright 2024 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

By meerna

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