SEATTLE – Three people have been arrested and charged in what authorities describe as a series of random shootings in the Seattle area, including one that sent dozens of bullets into a schoolteacher's home and another that left a newspaper carrier with life-threatening injuries.
The first shooting came on April 24, when two of the defendants — Melissa Prisila Langi, 23, and Rodney T. Strickland, 17 — tested out a newly purchased AK-47 by firing 19 bullets at a couple and their young daughters as they walked to the front door of their home at a trailer park in the south suburb of Kent, authorities said in charging documents filed this week.
They characterized it as a possible attempted "thrill killing."
"Bullets tore through the residence and struck cars parked mere feet from the family, but astonishingly, none of the victims were struck by gunfire," wrote deputy King County prosecutor Jason Simmons.
Langi and at least one of the other defendants then participated in at least four more shootings, with the AK-47, an AR-15 assault-style weapon, or both, investigators said.
Among them: Barrages of gunfire hit a schoolteacher's home in Seattle as he slept on April 30, an occupied car on May 3, and a car carrying a couple in their 70s delivering newspapers May 4. The man delivering papers was struck in the chest and shoulder and spent 13 days in the hospital.
Langi, Strickland and Isiah D. Lewis, 18, are due to be arraigned Monday on numerous counts of first-degree assault. Lewis and Strickland also face charges of unlawful gun possession due to prior convictions. Strickland was not charged in the shooting of the newspaper carrier.
In interviews with police following their arrests, Langi and Lewis said they were seeking to target rival gang members in at least some of the shootings, according to an investigation report filed in court.
However, authorities said none of the people the defendants shot at had any gang ties.
Langi told police she was present for the shooting of the newspaper carrier, but did not personally shoot or know that others would, a Seattle police detective wrote.
Kenan Isitt, an attorney for Lewis, declined to comment on the case Thursday. Lawyers for the other defendants did not immediately return emails seeking comment.
Investigators say Langi is the one who purchased the weapons and that she was present at all of the shootings. She drove the other defendants to four of them, prosecutors said. Detectives searching her home in Tukwila found the AK-47 under her bed, charging documents indicate.
Police said they linked the shootings through forensic analysis.