Tevin Geike, 20, was walking down a street in Lakewood, Wash., with two of his fellow Army soldiers when a car full of black men reportedly drove by and shouted a racial comment. One of the soldiers apparently responded by calling out the group's disrespect for combat veterans.
What followed were deadly events that have police investigating whether Geike, who was fatally stabbed during a subsequent altercation, was the victim of a hate crime.
The soldier, an aviation operations specialist, died in a parking lot, police say, after the men got out of the car and proceeded to fight with the three combat veterans. While it was mostly a verbal altercation, one of the men reportedly stabbed Geike while the group was retreating back toward the vehicle.
Bleeding profusely, he dropped to the ground and died at the scene as the five suspects -- all said to be in their mid-20s -- drove away.
Tevin Geike, a U.S. combat veteran, was murdered in a parking lot in Lakewood, Wash. (Image Source: Facebook)
KOMO-TV reports that Geike was celebrating with family and friends on the evening of the attack, as his contract with the military had ended. He was just preparing to start a new life outside the ranks when he was brutally murdered.
"I don't understand how someone can do this -- that man, he almost gave his life for people to enjoy the freedoms they have and he was just stabbed for no (expletive) reason," said Glenn Zimmerman, one of the fallen soldier's friends.
Considering that the alleged remark that started the altercation was racial in nature, police, who say it is too early to tell whether race or ethnicity were definitively motivating factors, are exploring whether the situation should be treated as a hate crime.
"At this point, it appears that it could have been a hate crime," Lakewood police Lt. Chris Lawler told The News Tribune. "We’re certainly looking at it now as a potential hate crime. We’re not going to say that it is, but according to two guys at the scene, it appears to be racially motivated."
Lawler has pledged to find those responsible and said that authorities won't give up until they are caught. While surveillance video has been found, the footage does not help in identifying the suspects.
Geike was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash.