VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A man convicted of killing three people in Woodland has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Brent Luyster was found guilty last month of shooting and killing three people during a rampage in July 2016. Another person was wounded but survived.
Luyster maintained his innocence in court on Friday, saying he doesn't know how he was "convicted of any of this." Luyster received three life sentences.
The investigation into Luyster began when deputies were first called at 10:20 p.m. on July 15, 2016 about a gunshot victim at an AM/PM convenience store on CC Street. They found a woman suffering from a gunshot wound to the face, according to Sgt. Tony Barnes of the Clark County Sheriff's Office.
Court documents revealed the woman was unable to speak with deputies, but she was able to write the answers to their questions. She told them she passed out, then "army-crawled" away from the home to escape. She says she flagged down a car and rode to the gas station to get help.
Deputies learned the shooting happened at a home in the 4000 block of Northwest 417th Street. Upon arrival, they found three people dead.
The victims were identified as Joseph Lamar, Janell Knight and Zachary Thompson. According to court documents, all three victims were shot in the head.
Documents reveal the two men were found dead, on their backs, side by side in the driveway. The woman was found dead, on her back, on the couch inside the home.
In March, Luyster attempted to escape from the Clark County Jail.
Luyster's criminal history
According to court documents, Luyster has a criminal record that goes back to the late 1990s including multiple charges of assault, malicious harassment and other crimes. His most recent run-in with the law appears to be in May. He was charged with second-degree assault and harassment.
The Columbian newspaper reports that Luyster was scheduled for trial in Cowlitz County Superior Court on allegations that he pistol-whipped his ex-girlfriend at his Longview home. He pleaded not guilty in May to charges of assault, harassment and illegal firearm possession.
Luyster was arrested in 2013 on accusations of felony assault and racially-motivated malicious harassment in an assault at a Vancouver bar. The Oregonian reports he pleaded guilty to rioting with a weapon and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
An older picture of Luyster shows his body covered in Nazi and skinhead tattoos.
“That ideology is both kind of violent in terms of confronting people they view as their enemies but also tied into a larger view of kind of… racial conflict,” said Randy Blazak, the Director of the Hate Crimes Research Network. Blazak is also a faculty member at the University of Oregon.
“The Northwest has a long history of skinhead activity going back to the 1980s and they've been involved in some pretty serious violence in the region,” he said.
On Luyster’s Facebook page, people left comments of support. Some posted phrases that included references to Odin and Valhalla.
“A lot of white supremacists, especially in the Northwest, subscribe to this racist version of Odinism where they believe in the Viking lords and to die in Valhalla. It's kind of like a white supremacist version of jihad so there's this belief that there's a righteous way to die in battle for this larger cause,” explained Blazak.
While he said there are pockets where the white supremacist ideology still resonates, it’s becoming less prevalent.
“While the organized hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and skinheads have been on the wane, the real growth has been inside prisons and jails where they kind of organize themselves around a protection racket,” said Blazak.
Blazak said it’s important to recognize that just because someone may have tattoos suggesting a certain ideological stance, there are people who were temporary members of the skinhead subculture.
“Some of those folks come out the other side and do work against racism and try to undo the harm they've done,” Blazak said.