Tevin Geike, 20, was stabbed to death while walking down a street in Lakewood, Wash., with two of his fellow Army soldiers on Saturday. While the brutal murder was initially investigated as a hate crime, race is no longer considered a potential causal factor.
Shocking new details, though, add some major curveballs into the mix.
As it turns out, it wasn't a random group of men who allegedly attacked the young man. Authorities have now arrested three of Geike's fellow soldiers who served with him at Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma, Wash.
While the victim and his friends purportedly didn't know the alleged perpetrators, they were, ironically, all from the same military base.
Of the five suspects, the three in custody are Jeremiah Hill, 23, Cedarium Johnson, 21, and Ajoni Runnion-Bareford, 21. Hill is considered the main suspect, CBS News reports.
The men were arrested on Monday after military personnel told police that Hill had asked for first aid on Saturday for a knife wound on his right hand, claiming that he cut himself while stabbing a man to death. Later, though, his story changed and he reportedly said he sliced his hand while chopping vegetables.
While Lakewood police Lt. Chris Lawler initially told The News Tribune that the murder might have been a hate crime, after interviewing the suspects, authorities believe that this is no longer the case.
For now, the motivation for the attack is still not clear, but, as stated, race is not believed to be the main causal factor.
Initially, authorities said that a car full of black men drove by Geike and two of his fellow soldiers who were walking down the street and shouted a racial comment (a witness said that the words "white" and "cracker" were audible). One of the soldiers with Geike apparently responded by calling out the group’s disrespect for combat veterans.
Geike, an aviation operations specialist, died in a nearby parking lot, police said, after the men got out of the car and proceeded to fight. This initial account is now being cleared up by witness testimony.
Here's what police told KIRO-TV about the events that suspects have apparently corroborated:
Detectives said [a witness at the scene[ told them he was in a vehicle with four of his friends driving on Pacific Highway when words are exchanged between Geike and his two friends, who were walking on the street, and his friends in the car.
He said they stopped to talk to the victims, but nothing happened once they discovered they were all active duty soldiers.
As the five men were walking back to their car, Hill appeared to bear hug the victim and pushed him to the ground, authorities said.
KOMO-TV reported this week 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.
Police have obtained the vehicle that was used the night of the stabbing and officials searched barracks rooms to obtain multiple items of evidence.