Tacoma Police seek tips in 2002 Thanksgiving double murder

A disturbing double murder of a teenage girl and a 5-year-old boy on Thanksgiving 15 years ago can still be solved. “We want people to know that we’re still working on this and if they have anything new, if they didn’t come forward 15 years ago out of fear or because they didn’t think what they had was important, please call and talk to us,” said Tacoma Police Officer Loretta Cool.

The house on South 75th Street was filled with 20 to 25 family and friends that Thanksgiving in 2002. Detectives say after dinner, about a dozen of them gathered in the basement to watch TV and just after 10 p.m. – someone took aim.

“A subject approached this window, the curtains were closed. The suspect proceeded to fire multiple shots through the window, into the wall, striking four people inside,” said Det. Brian Vold. Two people were injured but 19-year-old Kimberly Riley and 5-year-old Jeremy Britt-Bayinthavong were killed. “Her brother was friends of the family and he invited her down for Thanksgiving gathering and the 5-year-old who died, this was his grandfather’s house at the time of the incident,” said Det. Vold.

After the shots were fired, one neighbor saw a man running away from the house. “Witnesses saw a lone subject with dark hair and a puffy jacket run away from the window and run around to the corner of the house southbound on ‘l’ street,” said Det. Vold. Another witness saw a brown to dark-colored ‘70s to late ‘80s Ford pickup truck with a white canopy and “FORD” in white letters across the tailgate racing down the street. They believe the gunman jumped into that truck to get away. Detectives don’t know whether the truck was borrowed, or actually belonged to the suspect – but it’s unusual and they’re hoping someone remembers who may have owned it.

“What’s most troubling about this is they didn’t care who they shot as long as they sent the message,” said Det. Vold. “The person that may have been the ultimate goal was in the house, but that isn’t the person they shot. They shot four innocent people who have no criminal background, no trouble in their lives, they were just seated at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Tacoma Police are hoping someone will finally break their silence. “This is one we should never let go,” said Officer Cool.

If you can recall anything that can help police finally solve this case, you can remain anonymous but submitting the information to Crime Stoppers of Tacoma-Pierce County by calling 1 (800) 222-TIPS (8477) or going to www.tpcrimestoppers.com. There is a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and charges.

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