Renton, WA – Two suspects alleged to have ambushed a Renton police officer as she was driving down the road in the middle of the day were ordered to be held on just $50,000 bail apiece during their initial court appearances on Thursday, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors argued that both men are a danger to the community and that they are “unlikely to reappear” for future court dates if they are released, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said in a press release on Friday.
However, the prosecutor didn’t charge the gunman with the most serious charge he was booked on, assault in the first degree, and instead opted to only charge the gunman with the lesser charges of drive-by shooting and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Prosecutors asked the judge to set bail at $1 million for one of the defendants, and to set a $250,000 bail for the second defendant.
But pro-term District Court Judge David O set both defendants’ bails at just $50,000 each, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press identified the suspect who fired at the officer as 24-year-old Frankie Taijon Robertson.
The second suspect has been identified as 23-year-old Lamonta Joseph Steward, according to the Associated Press.
It is unclear whether or not either of the suspects are still in custody.
The incident occurred at approximately 4:49 p.m. on Sept. 7 as a Renton Police Department (RPD) officer was driving her marked patrol vehicle down Talbot Road South, the department said in a press release on Wednesday.
The officer was in a left-turn lane, preparing to head east on South Grady Way, when someone opened fire from the Chevron gas station parking lot located at the same intersection.
The officer said she heard at least 10 gunshots, according to the press release.
“The first thing she did was duck for cover in her car,” RPD Detective Robert Onishi told KIRO. “Then once the shooting stopped, she popped back up again, and people were pointing out a vehicle that was speeding off.”
Police described the suspect vehicle as a red Kia.
They were able to stop the vehicle after a brief pursuit and arrested two suspects – a 23-year-old man from Seattle and a 24-year-old male passenger from Kirkland, according to the RPD.
The 23-year-old driver, later identified as Steward, was arrested on charges of attempting to elude pursuing police vehicle and drive by shooting.
The 24-year-old passenger, later identified as Robertson, was arrested on charges of drive by shooting and first-degree assault. However, the prosecutor never charged the assault, which was the most serious offense.
Investigators reviewed surveillance footage from the scene and determined that the shooter specifically targeted the RPD officer, according to the press release.
“Turned out to be a pretty fair amount of gunfire,” Det. Onishi told KIRO. “We recovered, I think, 15 casings in the parking lot there.”
The detective told KING the video footage, which has not been released, showed the backseat passenger getting out of the vehicle with a gun and waving at bystanders to move out of the way before he opened fire on the patrol car in broad daylight.
No one was injured during the attack, the RPD said.
The department urged the drivers of two other vehicles – a white sedan and a black SUV – that were stopped at the light directly in front of the RPD officer’s vehicle to contact police.
They also asked anyone who witnessed the shooting or has more information about what transpired to reach out to the RPD.
Renton police said Robertson is also suspected of having been the gunman who opened fire on a Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper back in March, according to the Associated Press.
The earlier attack occurred on the northbound Interstate 5 ramp onto Interstate 405, according to a WSP spokesperson.
The trooper was not injured in the shooting.
Investigators said they linked Robertson to the March shooting by matching his DNA with the DNA on a hat that fell off the gunman’s head while he was shooting out the window, according to the Associated Press.