BELLEVUE – As police continue to search for the suspect in a Bellevue bar shooting that left a man dead and another injured, many wonder why he was on the street in the first place.
Bellevue police say 19-year-old Ja’mari Jones shot and killed a 30-year-old man at the Munchbar Bar and Grill inside Bellevue Square early Monday morning. Witnesses and Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said several Seahawk players were inside the bar at the time; no players were involved or injured in the shooting.
“It’s a real tragedy,” said Kelsey McMichael, by phone from his home in Florida. He knows Jones well.
The then-15-year-old killed McMichael’s brother Ed, known to many in Seattle as the “Tuba Man.”
“We sure felt like they deserved more punishment,” said McMichael.
But Jones, and two other teens, pleaded guilty to reduced manslaughter charges for the crime, after Ed McMichael was attacked, robbed and beaten near a bus stop. He died several days after the attack. Jones served 36 weeks in juvenile detention for the crime.
“I was so angry. They didn’t express any remorse,” said McMichael. “I didn’t get the sense they were remorseful for what they’ve done.”
The King County Prosecutor’s Office says it did not have much of a choice.
“We said at the time (Jones) plead in juvenile court that no witnesses came forward despite a dozen people seeing the robbery of Mr. McMichael, the Tuba Man. If no one comes forward, we can’t aggressively prosecute,” Ian Goodhew, spokesperson for the King County Prosecutor’s Office, said on Tuesday. “As a result we couldn’t prosecute him as an adult. If people want convictions, they need to stand up and come forward to help police and prosecutors; otherwise we are left with weak cases.”
Goodhew says there were 12-15 witnesses of the attack that refused to testify.
It’s still unclear why the underage Jones was in the bar, or how he got access to a gun. An email to the bar’s owner was unreturned on Christmas Day. The King County Medical Examiner’s office has not released the Bellevue victim’s name.
McMichael says one thing is for sure.
“It’s a real tragedy.”