SEATTLE – People who knew a 19-year-old pregnant woman who died of multiple gunshot wounds last week believe she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"I was just coming down here to be with her, think about the good times," said 17- year- old Charelle Dale as she lingered near the makeshift memorial for her friend Tanaya Gilbert, who was shot and killed last Wednesday.
Dale said she remembers how Gilbert loved to dance. And she remembers Gilbert’s smile as “unexplainable, beautiful.”
Dale does not believe Gilbert was the target of the shooting.
“Wrong place, wrong time,” is the only thing I can think of,” Dale said.
Gilbert was shot multiple times as she sat in the driver’s seat of a parked car chatting with friends on 54th Avenue South near S. Roxbury Street. Three other young women were in the car with Gilbert.
16-year-old Marcuita, who asked to be identified only by her first name, was wounded in the thigh and arm.
“All I remember is just hearing gunshots and trying to get away, and not succeeding in getting away,” Marcuita said.
In San Francisco, police confirmed Monday that a man they shot and killed Saturday was a “person of interest” in the Gilbert murder.
The shooting prompted protests, but Police Chief Greg Suhr defended his officers’ decision to use lethal force on the man, identified as Kenneth Wade Harding, Jr.
Shur said that when officers confronted Harding about not paying bus fare, he ran and began shooting at police.
"At one point he (Harding) turned, and fired upon the officers under his arm. The officers returned fire, striking Mr. Harding, mortally injuring him," Shur said.
Shur said a gun recovered at the scene does not appear to be the same gun used in the Seattle shootings.
Harding was just released from a Washington prison in April after serving time for trying to force a 13-year-old girl into prostitution.
According to Deputy Chief of Staff Ian Goodhew of the King County Prosecutor’s Office, Harding was initially charged with Rape of a Child Second Degree and Promoting Commercial Sexual Abuse with a Minor. However, Goodhew said that when the girl was interviewed by prosecutors, she disclosed that she had repeatedly lied to Harding about her age.
Prosecutors dropped the rape charge and pursued a lesser charge of Attempted Promoting of Prostitution. Harding was sentenced to 22 months in prison.
Police are still sorting out the motive in Gilbert’s shooting.
Friends say Harding’s death at the hands of police brings a sense of relief mixed with longing that they will never see the alleged killer brought to justice in a courtroom.
"I'm kind of glad he's gone,” Dale said, “but my friend was like well, I would rather he be here, than be at peace."