Three soldiers have been arrested in connection with the stabbing death of another soldier in Washington state, authorities said Monday.
All three suspects and the victim, 20-year-old Tevin Geike, were active-duty soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, outside of Tacoma.
The three soldiers arrested — Jeremiah Hill, 23, Cedarium Johnson, 21, and Ajoni Runnion-Bareford, 21 — were set to be charged with murder, police in the city of Lakewood said.
The stabbing took place early Saturday morning. A person who admitted he was at the scene when the incident occurred, told police he was in a car with four of his friends driving on Pacific Highway when the people in the car engaged in an exchange with a few men walking on the street.
The men in the car stopped to talk to those on the street and realized they were all active-duty soldiers.
As the suspects were walking back to their car, police said Hill appeared to “bear hug” Geike, pushing him to the ground.
The witness also told police that once they were back in the car, he noticed Hill was covered in blood and had also cut himself. The men fled the scene and disposed of the knife, police said.
Another cooperative suspect corroborated the account, police said.
Officials said they had no information on a motive but it appeared from their interviews that race was not a factor.
On Sunday, police had said that, according to witness statements, Geike and his group, who are all white, had been walking along the road when a car drove by and its occupants, who were African-American, yelled "something about being white."
Hill, whom police called the main suspect, did not make a statement.
But officials said another soldier on the base had spoken to Hill, who told him he had "cut his hand when he stabbed a guy to death over the weekend." When confronted by a sergeant, Hill denied the account, police said.
The five suspects are assigned to a combat infantry unit, the victim was assigned to a combat aviation unit, officials said.
First published October 7 2013, 3:08 PM