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Man who killed Wash. K-9 in 2020 sentenced to more than 64 years in prison

The man, who had eight prior felony convictions, was convicted in November of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, harming a police dog and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm

Man who fatally shot member of gang before killing Tacoma police dog in 2020 sentenced

Police began searching and they called for a K-9 search, done by Ronja who was the newest police dog in the department.

Tacoma Police Department via Facebook

By Puneet Bsanti
The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

TACOMA, Wash. — A man who killed a fellow gang member out of jealousy in 2020 and fatally shot a Tacoma police dog the next day has been sentenced to more than 64 years in prison.

Dyrell Swinson, 31, was accused of fatally shooting 28-year-old Jake Red on Aug. 12, 2020. He was reportedly suspicious that Red was romantically involved with the mother of Swinson’s children, charging documents show.

The next day when Tacoma Police Department officers were looking for Swinson, he fired at three officers and a K-9 named Ronja. The police dog’s handler was struck by shrapnel and Ronja died at the veterinarian hospital from his wounds. The handler received minor injuries.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas Quinlan sentenced Swinson to 774 months on Friday.

A jury found Swinson guilty on Nov. 20, 2023, of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault and harming a police dog. On Oct. 18, 2023, Swinson pleaded guilty to second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, according to court records.

Swinson has eight prior felonies, including sex trafficking of children, attempting to elude and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Tacoma police officers were dispatched at 4:52 p.m. on Aug. 12 for reports of multiple shooters in a commercial parking lot near South 64th Street and South Yakima Avenue. Officers found a witness and Red in a car. Red was deceased and had been shot multiple times in the neck, back and abdomen, charging documents show.

The witness told police that Swinson accused Red of being romantically involved with his children’s mother. Red, Swinson and the witness were close friends and part of the same street gang. Red denied the accusations ,and the men continued hanging out normally that day.

Later, the witness and Red were driving when Swinson pulled up alongside them. Swinson said he was trying to get a hold of Red on his phone. The two cars pulled into a parking lot and Swinson got out of his car. Swinson brought up the issue of Red being involved with the mother of his children, which he denied again, prosecutors wrote.

Swinson leaned into his car, pulled out a handgun and said words to the effect of, “I think you’re playing me,” before shooting Red. When he was shooting at Red, the witness grabbed a gun that belonged to the victim and shot at Swinson. Swinson got into his car and drove off, prosecutors wrote.

According to a previous News Tribune story, Red’s sister said that he was not dating the mother of Swinson’s kids. She believed that Swinson killed him out of jealousy.

“Jake loved his friends and family. He also loved kids although he never had a chance to have any of his own,” his sister, Treashuana Perry, said in the story. “He was funny and very easy to get a along with. His heart was pure, and he will be greatly missed.”

Prosecutors wrote that officers searched for Swinson and found him at about 1:15 a.m. the next day. Officers tried to pull him over but he sped off, initiating a pursuit. Swinson’s car was found abandoned after he crashed into an unoccupied vehicle in a residential area. Police began searching and they called for a K-9 search, done by Ronja who was the newest police dog in the department, charging documents.

Swinson was found hiding beneath an SUV and he was ordered to come out. Several officers in the area, including Ronja’s handler and heard the orders. They walked toward the officer and the vehicle they believed Swinson was hiding underneath.

Officers assumed Swinson was hiding underneath the wrong vehicle and walked past the SUV where he actually was under. When an officer kneeled down to get a better look, Swinson fired at three officers and Ronja.

One officer fired back and struck Swinson. Swinson was in critical condition but eventually recovered.

“It appears that the defendant stopped shooting at the officers only because his firearm malfunctioned when two live rounds were fed into the chamber,” prosecutors wrote.


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