Auburn police arrest suspect in alleged drive-by shooting

Auburn Police say that a member of a violent criminal street gang fired multiple bullets from a stolen car around a residential Auburn neighborhood on Feb. 5, and then threatened to kill a man who’d seen him do it.

On Feb. 8, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Deandre Kai Kabua, 25, of Auburn with one count each of drive-by shooting, felony harassment and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

His co-defendant in this case, Kenju Sawej, who was allegedly a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the incident, is up against the same charges, minus felony harassment.

According to court records, just shy of a year earlier, Kabua had been convicted in King County Superior Court of attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle, a felony, which legally prohibits him from possessing any firearm, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Phillips.

Kabua’s bail was set at $15,000. His arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 22 (after press time) at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

According to the Auburn Police Department’s Certification for Determination of Probable Cause, Kabua and Sawej are documented members of the Marshallese King “MK” street gang, which, according to the report, is well known in Auburn for “a plethora of violent crimes,” among them drive-by shootings, armed robberies, violent assaults and homicides in which the two men were allegedly involved.

Here, according to Auburn Police, is what happened.

At about 12:34 p.m. Feb. 5, APD patrol units responded to reports of a drive-by shooting in the area of 3500 Auburn Way South. At the scene, a witness told the officers he had seen a black, 2-door hatchback 2016 Honda with distinctive placards and someone randomly shooting from the driver’s side window.

According to the police account, after that shooting, the witness returned home, got on the internet and found a social media post involving the suspected vehicle, which he and the officers examined and concluded had been stolen in a carjacking on Feb. 4 at Lake Tapps Deli on Forest Canyon Road Southeast, about seven miles from the shooting.

At 1:41 p.m. Feb. 5, offers were dispatched to another drive-by shooting at 627 7th St. SE. The man who’d made the call told officers he’d been standing in his front yard when he saw a black sedan driving east of his home and then heard 5 to 6 gunshots coming from the car. He said the occupants of the vehicle noticed him, turned the car around, pulled up to where he was and stopped.

He said the driver then partly exited his seat.

“I see you, I know where you live. I am coming back for you,” he recalled the driver saying to him before he shot a round into the ground directly in front of the man’s home.

According to the police account, the man described his antagonist as a Pacific Islander with a dark complexion, standing an estimated 5 feet 8 inches tall.

According to the account, police later learned that surveillance video from a nearby residence had caught an image of the vehicle, which confirmed to them it was the same one that had been involved in the drive-by shooting. Officers also found eight shell casings at the scene of the shooting.

At about 3:38 p.m., officers were checking an area where stolen vehicles had been left when they spotted a vehicle that appeared to match the black sedan, parked on the side of the road with two Pacific Island men inside. Believing that the vehicle had recently been stolen during a robbery and had been involved in two shootings, officers tried to prevent a pursuit and blocked it from leaving the area, according to the report.

At that point, according to the police account, Kabua left the vehicle and tried to run, but was caught and taken into custody following a foot pursuit. When Sawej tried to the do the same, he was taken into custody as he left the vehicle.

The witness to the second drive-by shooting later confirmed Kabua as the shooter who had threatened him, “100 percent.” When officers looked into the vehicle they found on the front seat a Taurus TX22 rimfire pistol and an unfired 22LR cartridge.

By checking the sedan’s VIN number, according to the account, officers determined the vehicle was the same one that had been stolen the day before at the Lake Tapps Deli. In that vehicle, officers also found the owner’s driver’s license.

The Auburn Police detective who composed the certificate of probable cause offered the following pointed warning about the two suspects.

“(Kabua and Sawej) are utterly dangerous to the community, as once again shown during this incident and events leading up to this incident,” he wrote.