Gunfight outside Auburn tavern leaves 3 dead, 1 wounded

AUBURN — A fight outside an Auburn sports bar early Sunday left three men dead and one injured when it escalated into gunfire, Auburn police said.

Police Cmdr. Mike Hirman said dozens of people were filtering out of The Sports Page tavern at closing time around 2 a.m. at 2802 Auburn Way N. when a fight broke out in the parking lot and shots were fired.

Three men, all in their mid-20s, were pronounced dead at the scene, and a fourth victim was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after suffering multiple gunshot wounds. The injured man is in his late 20s or early 30s, Hirman said. His condition was serious, but stable Sunday night.

“We know this dispute escalated to gunfire, but in terms of why, we don’t know that yet,” Hirman said. “There were probably at least 50, maybe more, people in the parking lot. Even two people standing together didn’t see the same thing. We are trying to sort through all of those stories.”

Hirman said some of the victims and suspects knew each other.

The fight was between two groups at the tavern, one of which was there for a birthday party, Hirman said.

It started between two women, when one of them danced with a man at the tavern, Hirman said.

The identities of the victims would not be released until this afternoon at the earliest, a spokesman with the King County Medical Examiner’s Office said.

Police detained a person of interest and arrested that person on an unrelated weapons charge Sunday.

Police also had recovered several handguns. They believe several different firearms were used, based on shell casings at the scene.

It appeared there were as few as two or as many as four shooters, Hirman said. Detectives were still looking Sunday for other people who may have been involved, including other witnesses and victims, he said.

Police in the neighboring suburbs of Federal Way and Kent stopped two vehicles that matched descriptions of cars leaving the scene of the shooting. Those vehicles were seized, and their occupants were being questioned, Hirman said. The car stopped in Federal Way was riddled with bullet holes.

Officers have been concentrating on The Sports Page more around closing time recently after responding to several fights there, Hirman said, though he didn’t recall any of those altercations involving firearms.

No officers were at the bar when the shooting happened, he said.

“Some of these bars tend to have more problems, more trouble than others,” Hirman said. “We had been responding to The Sports Page a little more frequently lately. I’m not going to say that this was foreseen, but I will say that there have been some problems there. We are exploring ways to work with the management to reduce the number of calls that we’re getting up there, to reduce crime.”

The bar was closed Sunday afternoon, with a sign that said it would reopen today. A message left on the bar’s answering machine by The News Tribune was not returned Sunday.

Laneisha Robinson, 20, sat with roses outside the bar Sunday afternoon. She grew up going to school with one of the men who died and had been friends with the other two for several years, she said.

“It was all fun and games,” she said about her childhood friend. “You could never stay mad at (him). You just couldn’t.”

One of the other men who died has two sons, who are roughly 5 and 8 years old, she said.

“There was nothing you could say bad,” she said about her three friends. “They were some good men.”

A man who identified himself as the cousin of one of those who died remembered the 21-year-old for his sense of humor.

“He was a funny person, hilarious,” Amir Sye said.

Friends and family gathered with candles and flowers Sunday night outside the tavern to mark the places where the men died.

Staff writer Kenny Via and The Associated Press contributed to this report.