The King County Prosecutor’s Office has filed a Murder in the Second Degree charge against Eugene Vanell Piper, 37, for the shooting death of 27-year-old Elijah Chase Dye near a 76 Gas Station on SW 148th and 1st Ave South in Burien on Feb. 12, 2023.
As we previously reported, Piper was arrested in Seattle on Tuesday, Mar. 7 by the Metro Transit Street Crimes Unit, who coordinated with King County Major Crimes and Burien Precinct 4 Street Crimes Unit. As the suspect was possibly armed and had already committed a homicide, a King County TAC-30 squad was also called in to assist with the arrest.
According to multiple witness, on the night of Feb. 12, 2023, Piper fatally shot Dye in the chest, following a verbal exchange between the two in an area between El Antojo Restaurant and the 76 Gas Station.
Surveillance footage recovered from local businesses captured the events leading up to, during, and following the shooting.
“Taken collectively, the evidence amassed thus far reveals that the defendant perpetrated a deliberate assault on the victim which he committed using a firearm and that resulted in fatal injury,” Prosecutors said.
Review of the defendant shows at least 15 prior warrants having been issued since 2008 for failing to appear for court as ordered.
Here’s more from charging documents:
KCSO Deputies arrived at the scene within a few minutes and located the male victim, Elijah Chase Dye, 27, laying on the ground in the alleyway between the 76 Gas Station and the El Antojo Restaurant located at 119 SW 148 Street. Deputies observed what appeared to be a single gunshot wound to the middle of his chest. A witness told responding Deputies that Dye, who he knew as “Chase,” had gotten into a verbal argument with the shooter who they did not know personally but had been told by other witnesses was named “Eugene.” This person witnessed the verbal exchange between Dye and “Eugene” and saw “Eugene” pull a revolver out of his waistband and shoot it at Dye once. They then saw “Eugene” walk away westbound on SW 148 Street. KCSO Deputies conducted a search of the immediate area for “Eugene” based on a description that the witness had initially provided, but were unable to find him.
At 11:01 p.m., Dye was declared deceased at the scene.
Several others witnessed the shooting, including one whose identity is known to law enforcement. This witness told police she has known “Eugene” for approximately six years, although she does not know his last name. She knows that he sometimes goes by the nickname “Swiper.” She described him as a mix-raced white/black male with light black skin, short black hair, and “super-skinny” build. She said that on that day, “Eugene” was wearing a black hoodie with the hood pulled up, a zipped-up black windbreaker, a lanyard with a torch tied to it, and a black beanie which she stated he had dropped near the restaurant when he was leaving. When asked if he had a mask or face-covering, she said that he had one on that could be pulled up over his face, but said approximately 20-30 minutes before the shooting she had been walking around the Burien Transit Center approximately three blocks west of where the shooting occurred. She ran into “Eugene” there, as she often does as he is also homeless and spends time in and around downtown Burien. They decided to hang out and they then walked together to the El Antojo Restaurant and sat down on the east side of the building. This portion of the restaurant is immediately behind and to the west of the 76 Gas Station.
The witness stated that Dye and another, both of whom she knows, walked up to where “Eugene” and her were seated and began to talk to her. She and “Eugene” were sitting on the ground and Dye stood next to them. Per this witness, this appeared to bother “Eugene” and he told Dye to back up. Dye told “Eugene” to calm down and this angered “Eugene” who then stood up. Dye and “Eugene” had a back-and-forth verbal exchange and, eventually, the two walked northbound approximately 10 feet away from where the witness was still sitting. She could tell that they were talking to each other, but she could not hear exactly what they were saying and was only partially paying attention to them. She was talking to another when she heard a very loud bang sound. She looked back towards “Eugene” and Dye and saw “Eugene” turn around and start quickly walking heading northbound. I asked her if she knows what the bang sound was and she replied, “It was Chase [Dye] getting shot.” I asked her why she believes that, and she said that after “Eugene” walked away, Dye walked over near her and sat down on the ground and looked at her. She asked him if he was okay as he was “looking at me kind of funny” and Dye did not respond and then fell down into a laying position and “started seizing.’. She could then see what she believed to be blood on his pants. She stated that she did not know where “Eugene” was but suspected that he likely walked to the Transit Center and got on a bus.
A Detective arrived at the scene at approximately 2330 hours and met with a witness and conducted a recorded interview with him. The witness stated that he and Dye had watched the Super Bowl at an apartment earlier in the evening. He then decided to go down to the Burien Transit Center and talk to sorne people he knows to spend time there. Dye agreed to go, and they eventually made their way to the alleyway/strip of land between the 76 Gas Station and El Antojo Restaurant. Once there he saw a woman he knew sitting on the ground on the east side of El Antojo, along with a male subject he did not know. He knelt down near the ground to speak with her and the unknown male subject said, “this guy’s too close.” He told the male subject that it was okay as he knew him. The male subject moved her legs so that he could stand up and said that he was going to be leaving. The male subject got up and started to walk northbound towards SW 148 Street but was “talking trash” as he walked away. Dye said something to the unknown male as he walked away, and the woman tried to deescalate the situation. Dye started to walk toward the unknown male subject, who after walking a short distance turned back around to face towards the south and, “started talking sh*t” to Dye. She then saw the unknown subject pull out a “revolver.” She immediately recognized the firearm as being a chrome or silver revolver. She stated he yelled, “gun gun gun gun!” The unknown male fired a single round towards Dye’s chest from approximately three feet away. The male subject then walked away northbound towards SW 148 Street. Dye turned back towards her and walked over to the side of the restaurant and then sat down. Very shortly thereafter, Dye laid down on the ground. She then called 911.
As part of this investigation, video surveillance was recovered from the El Antojo Restaurant and the 76 Gas Station. El Antojo has a CCTV camera that captures both video and audio located on the northeast corner of the building. A Detective walked through the scene and observed a black beanie-style hat laying on the ground at the northeast corner of the restaurant. Another Deputy advised that another witness had said that she thinks that “Eugene” dropped the beanie. It was seized as evidence. No fired casings were found at the scene, which is consistent with the description of the firearm as being a revolver as revolvers do not eject fired casings. While on scene the Detective met with a King County Medical Examiner’s Office Investigator and viewed Dye’s body where he observed a single, circular wound on the left side of his chest. There was no apparent exit wound, and he did not see any other visible injuries anywhere on his body.
The Detective reviewed CCTV camera footage from the northeast corner of the El Antojo Restaurant, which showed a witness whom he immediately recognized from his conversation with her as she was still wearing the same clothes, walking eastbound on SW 148th Street on the sidewalk on the south side of the road, approaching El Antojo. She was walking with a male subject. The two entered the restaurant parking lot at approximately 2124 hours. They then walked directly below the camera which captured the male subject’s clothing and face. The subject appeared to be a very thin black male, wearing a black beanie positioned loosely on top of his head and sits on top of a multicolored balaclava style head-cover. He appeared to have two hooded jackets on, a grey one underneath a black one, and was wearing a backpack strapped onto both shoulders. He looked to be carrying a second backpack on just his right shoulder. He was seen holding the strap of the second backpack with his right hand and the top of his hand and fingers were visible, revealing what appear to be large, shiny metal rings on all four fingers other than his thumb. He appeared to be wearing black jeans with a blue bandana that was used as a belt and black athletic shoes. He also appeared to have a necklace on, possibly a lanyard, with something hanging from it. His nose had a very unique profile as it appeared to be very large and very pointed. He appeared to have a black mustache and a black goatee.
At the 22:08:14 hours mark of the El Antojo video, a male subject can be heard saying, “he’s got a gun.” At 22:08:16 hours a single, very loud bang sound, consistent with a gunshot, is heard. At 22:08:20 hours the male subject who was seen walking into the area with a woman is then seen walking from the alley area into the parking lot on the north side of the restaurant, still carrying the black and green backpacks and wearing all the same clothes except for the black beanie. He is seen walking quickly northbound through the parking lot and once he reaches the sidewalk on the south side of SW 148th Street he is seen jogging westbound towards the transit center. He jogs out of frame at approximately 22:08:41 hours.
The Detective also obtained CCTV recordings from the 76 Gas Station, primarily from a camera located on the east wall that points directly at the east side of El Antojo and the dirt area where the shooting occurred. There is no audio associated with this video. The video recording shows the woman and another person sitting on the ground next to the east wall of El Antojo. Dye can be seen standing directly east of them, approximately 2-3 feet away.
The video shows the person sitting with the woman eventually stand up and walk northbound through the dirt alley area, past and away from Dye. That person is then seen walking backwards as he faces everyone else. Dye can be seen looking towards that person and motioning towards him with his hands. This person then stops and stands still, approximately 15 feet north of Dye, and they appear to be talking to each other. After a few seconds, the person turns northbound and again starts to walk to the north. He is seen getting halfway to the north edge of the business when he turns around again to face southbound and takes a few steps towards Dye. Dye then turns to face towards the person and begins quickly walking towards him.
The person is then seen walking backwards quickly while Dye walks towards him at about the same pace. As the person reaches the north edge of the building he is seen reaching towards his right hip with his right hand and then quickly pointing it towards Dye. The video resolution is not high enough to see what is in his hand, but he does appear to point some kind of object towards Dye very quickly. Dye immediately reacts and winces his body, reaching his right hand to his chest area. The person is then seen running northbound through the parking lot towards SW 148 Street. Dye is then seen turning back around and walking southbound approximately 20 feet until he reaches the area where the woman is sitting. Dye then sits down for a few seconds, then falls onto his side in the prone. He is never seen getting back up.
At 0830 on 2/13/2023 hours the Detective observed Dye’s autopsy at the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. The medical examiner advised that the only exterior injury observed on Dye’s person was the apparent gunshot wound to the chest, just to the left and below his sternum. Internal examination revealed projectile (a bullet) lodged in his spine that appeared to have severed Dye’s aorta. The projectile was recovered and released at the ME’s office. The medical examiner used a precision caliper to measure the diameter base of the bullet and found it to be 0.35”. Based on training and experience with firearms and ammunition, the Detective knww this to consistent with the standard diameter of approximately 0.357″ of .38 Special projectiles, the most common revolver cartridge. The Detective also examined the recovered bullet and observed it to have a jacketed hollow-point design and it appeared as though the hollow-point partially collapsed inward. The medical examiner provided him with a single piece of the jacket that had separated from the bullet.
On 2/15/2023 King County Metro provided the Detective with the CCTV recordings for Coach #7199 from 2/12/2023, which appears to be the bus that Piper boarded. Coach 7199 is seen driving through the Burien Transit Center pickup-area and approaching the southeast corner of the rider area at 22:11:45 hours. At that point in time no one other than the driver is on the bus. At 22:11:54 the bus comes to a stop and Piper and two other unidentified male subjects are seen getting onto the bus. As Piper gets on it appears that he swipes an ORCA card at the entry scanner. He then walks to the rear of the bus and sits in the second to last row on the driver’s side. The other male subjects who enter the bus do not sit with him and they do not appear to be together. The bus then leaves the transit center. Piper is still wearing what appears to be a multi-colored balaclava, the black jacket and black pants and carrying two backpacks when he gets onto the bus. The interior cameras, though in a somewhat night-vision mode where the recordings appear in black and white, record in high resolution. From the video the Detective was able to observe what appeared to be bright metallic rings visible on both of his hands on numerous fingers, consistent with the CCTV recordings from El Antojo.
During relevant portions of the bus footage Piper is seen removing a balaclava and taking his hood down, revealing his entire head and face. He looks directly at one of the interior cameras numerous times after this point in time and his facial features are clearly visible. His appearance looks to be a match to his booking photo that was reviewed from the end of 2021. The bus stops at the intersection of S 170th Street and International Boulevard S., facing east bound on S 170th Street and at approximately 22:23:53, Piper exits the bus. The Detective recognized the area based on his numerous years working patrol in the southwest precinct, and the 76 and Shell Gas Stations that are located at the northeast and southeast corners of the intersection, respectively.
I also spoke with another person (whose identity is known to law enforcement), who stated that another person told him that Piper was wanted by KCSO for a shooting. He said that Piper had stayed the night at his residence in Renton on Monday, 2/13/2023, and had left Tuesday morning, 2/14/2023. He said that Piper had left a backpack at his house that possibly had a gun in it. The Detective asked him if he could come to his house and meet with him and he said that I could.
The next morning, 2/14/2023, this person told Piper that he could not stay at the house and he needed to get on his way. He agreed to give Piper a ride to a Park & Ride in Kent. When Piper got out of his vehicle he asked him if he could pay him to stay for one more night and he said that he could not.
Piper asked if he could come back to the house to get his stuff and said something about getting, “my thing”. Hesaid that he knows that Piper was referring to a gun and asked him if he was, which Piper confirmed. Piper again told him that he had left his “thing” at his residence and asked if he could come back to get it and he told him that he could come by anytime to pick up his stuff.
He returned home and learned that Piper had left a backpack and a reusable shopping bag in the living room of the house where he had stayed the night. He put them in a van parked in front of his house as he did not want them in the house. While at his house, he showed the Detective his van and looking through the windows he could see a black backpack and a reusable shopping bag full of miscellaneous items with the handles tied together. The Detective immediately recognized the backpack as being one of the two backpacks that Piper was seen carrying on CCTV recordings from El Antojo and from the bus based on the backpack’s outward appearance. Consent to open his van was obtained and the Detective retrieved the bags which were seized as evidence.
This subject had not seen nor heard from Piper since he dropped him off in Kent. The Detective asked him what Piper was wearing when he arrived on 2/13/2023 and he said that he was wearing a grey sweatshirt and black pants. The Detective then showed him a CCTV still image from inside of the bus that shows Piper standing in front of the camera with his face exposed. I asked him if he recognized the person in the photo and he said, “That’s Eugene”.
On 2/16/2023 a search warrant was authorized to search the backpack and reusable shopping bag. Numerous evidence items were located inside of the backpack and bag, including: 2x live Hornady Critical Defense 110-grain .38 SPL cartridges, each containing a bullet similar in unique characteristics to that recovered from Dye’s body during the autopsy; a loaded Herman Schmidt Double Action .22LR revolver; and numerous printed and handwritten documents with Piper’s name, and photograph, printed on them, dated as recently as 1/3/2023.