Suspect in shooting of 17-year-old Edmonds girl to be charged as an adult

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The 16-year-old Mountlake Terrace boy suspected in the Friday, Nov. 30 shooting death of a 17-year-old Edmonds girl appeared in Juvenile Court on Tuesday where Judge George Appel found probable cause to believe that the suspect committed first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of 17-year-old Gala Zuehlke of Edmonds. Due to the nature of the crime and the age of teen suspect, Appel ruled that the boy would be transferred to Snohomish County Superior Court where he will be charged as an adult.

As previously reported, the victim was shot to death in her apartment in the Horizon Park Apartments in the 7400 block of 208th Street Southwest Friday. According to the medical examiner, she died as the result of a single gunshot to the head.

Detectives from the Edmonds Police Department worked through the weekend interviewing witnesses and acquaintances of the deceased and assembling evidence. This included interviews with a 15-year-old girl, a close friend of the victim, who initially told police she found the girl’s body in the apartment with an apparent gunshot wound.

According to police reports filed with the court, the friend later changed her story to state that the she and the victim were with the suspect at the apartment Friday. The suspect had a silver revolver and bullets that he said he had stolen. She stated that he put one round in the gun and was spinning the cylinder as he pointed the revolver at objects and people in the room, while pulling the trigger on the empty chambers. The witness further stated that she believed he did not know that each time he pulled the trigger the cylinder advanced the bullet closer to the firing chamber. The last time he pointed it at the victim and pulled the trigger, the gun fired.

The witness told police she then felt for a pulse on Zuehlke’s neck, and finding none she fled the apartment for home, telling her father who called 911. Upon arriving at the apartment, police found the body, but the alleged shooter was gone.

Additional information from this witness led police to other acquaintances of the suspect. Interviews were conducted, and information gained from these and other sources ultimately led authorities to a home on Maltby Road where on Dec. 3 they apprehended the suspect and took him into custody.

He appeared the next day in Juvenile Court. In addition to probable cause for first degree manslaughter, Judge George Appel ruled that he constitutes “a threat to community safety,” but would be released on $100,000 bail on condition that he remain under house arrest or in the company of his parents.

Because of the nature of the crime and the suspect’s age, the case has been turned over to adult court. Prosecutors are currently preparing charges, and plan to present them at the suspect’s arraignment, tentatively scheduled for this Friday in Snohomish County Superior Court.

— By Larry Vogel

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