Auburn man charged with murder in flare gun death

A modified flare gun was used to shoot and kill another man on Dec. 15.

An Auburn man was charged with second-degree murder in relation to the fatal shooting of another man with a flare gun on Dec. 15, according to charging documents

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg filed the charge against 29-year-old Philip Jan Urban for allegedly killing a 41-year-old man in Auburn in Urban’s apartment on J Court.

Bail was set at $1 million because the defendant posed a potential flight risk, according to charging documents.

At around 2:40 p.m. Dec. 15, 2021, Auburn police responded to a call in which a man claimed he had shot another man at his apartment at 2807 J Court in Auburn, according to the charging documents.

As police were on their way to the scene, the caller told dispatch he had shot the man in the chest with a flare gun after a fight and the man was “wedged” at the bottom of the stairs, according to charging documents. At that point, the caller also said he was attempting CPR on the gunshot victim.

When officers arrived on the scene, they took the caller into custody without incident and identified him by his driver’s license as Philip Jan Urban, according to charging documents. He was then taken to the police station for interrogation, according to charging documents.

When police approached the house, they found an orange flare gun on the patio outside of the front door and took it into evidence, according to charging documents.

Police found the man unresponsive at the bottom of the stairs with a large hole in his chest that appeared to be caused by a firearm, according to charging documents. Medics arrived on the scene and attempted life-saving measures, but were unsuccessful, and the victim was pronounced dead at 2:53 p.m., charging documents state.

The victim was identified by his driver’s license as Bryan S. Lesick, according to the charging documents.

At the station, Urban told officers his side of the story. The following is Urban’s account of the events as recorded in the charging documents:

On Dec. 15, Urban woke up to noises downstairs and found Lesick boiling water to make ramen noodles. Urban got mad that people were taking advantage of him and treating his apartment as a “flophouse.”

Urban told police that he was tired of people taking advantage of him and stealing from him, so he grabbed a flare gun loaded with a modified shotgun round and pointed it at Lesick and pulled the trigger, according to charging documents.

Urban said this was only to scare Lesick, and that he didn’t intend to hurt him that badly, according to charging documents. Urban said he looked for his phone for about half an hour and then called a friend before calling 911, according to charging documents.

The round Urban allegedly used was an emptied-out shotgun shell that he fills with rock salt or cork and match heads, according to charging documents. This was not the first time Urban used a modified flare gun as a weapon against another person, according to charging documents.

In an earlier incident, Urban used the flare gun to shoot a person whom Urban suspected was stealing his tires, according to charging documents. This prior shooting incident was investigated by Auburn police, but there is no indication Urban was charged with a felony in relation to this assault, according to charging documents.

Urban has no prior felony convictions, but has two misdemeanors for drug paraphernalia and one gross misdemeanor for possession of a dangerous weapon.

Despite the Mayor of Auburn Nancy Backus partnering with other South King County mayors to crack down on crime, cases submitted by Auburn police for prosecution are actually down this year compared to last, according to the prosecutor’s office.