Early on the evening of Friday, August 18, Arnulfo Gomez-Vazquez heard a knock on the door of his ground-floor apartment in Kent's East Hill neighborhood. The 27-year-old landscaper answered, stepping outside to chat with the unexpected caller and closing the door behind him. A few moments later, a single gunshot rang out. A neighbor and Gomez-Vazquez's family looked out their windows in time to see the young man slumped over in a pool of his own blood. Nobody got a good look at the shooter. A week later, Kent police say they are baffled by the slaying and are now seeking tips from the public in exchange for a reward.
Kent Police spokesman Lt. Pat Lowery says the murder was apparently random. Detectives conducted a thorough background check and determined that Gomez-Vazquez had a clean record and no history of gang affiliation.
"We talked to his employer, his co-workers, his neighbors, everybody--it turned up absolutely nothing," Lowery says. "This was a hardworking young man trying to make a life for himself. There is absolutely nothing to indicate this is gang-related."
Lowery says Gomez-Vazquez shared his living space at the Somerset Apartments, located at 10900 S.E. 255 Place in Kent, with his sister, brother-in-law, and their two children. He also had other extended family in the area. Lowery wasn't sure how long Gomez-Vazquez had lived in the Seattle area, except to say he wasn't a recent arrival.
One of most puzzling parts of the crime, Lowery notes, is that Gomez-Vazquez "felt comfortable enough to step outside and close the door to speak with whoever it was" who shot him. Still, Kent Police say the investigation has already stalled.
"We are at a dead end," Lowery says. "It's very unusual for us to make this kind of plea [for public assistance] this early in an investigation of this scope. Truly, this is a mystery right now."
Kent Police are holding a press conference tomorrow afternoon where Gomez-Vazquez's family will answer questions about the killing and, according to Lowery, "speak through the heart" about their loss.
The reward, worth up to $1,000, is being offered by Puget Sound Crime Stoppers. Anyone able offer clues should phone (206) 343-2020 or 1-800-222-TIPS.