Police are searching for a man who blew up a car and caused a massive fire during a funeral at an Auburn cemetery last month. Investigators say the suspect also shot City of Auburn employees.
On Aug. 23, police say a passenger in a car planted an explosive device in the car of a funeral attendee during the memorial at Mountain View Cemetery, which is owned by the city of Auburn.
According to Auburn police, the explosive device caused a “massive fire,” which destroyed the victim’s vehicle and surrounding trees.
An employee says that as a group of 60 to 80 people mourned during the funeral, someone approached one of the parked cars, throwing something inside.
“They saw a guy run to the window and break it,” said the employee, who asked not to be identified for security reasons. “Then, not even 30 seconds later, the car exploded,” he said. The employee shared photos and video of the scene with KIRO7 showing the victim’s vehicle – a black Lexus sedan – destroyed.
The officer says the suspect ran back to another car a short distance away and waited about 30 seconds to see the victim’s vehicle explode before speeding away.
“And my driver on the radio said, ‘Get the plate number of that black car!’ said the clerk. He and another associate attempted to follow the suspect vehicle and gave chase a short distance outside the cemetery.
“The guy burst through the window and fired four and five shots at me and my colleague,” he said. That’s when they got covered. “We just buckled down, turned it around and came back here,” he said.
“Are you ok;” asked KIRO7’s Deedee Sun.
“Yes,” said the clerk. “I don’t know what to do with it. It happened so quickly and I got a family to feed and take care of, so I came home at night.”
The funeral and the explosion happened more than two weeks ago, on August 23. But with no arrests, Auburn police are asking for your help.
“It’s a very unusual situation. It’s something we really want to figure out,” said Auburn Police Department spokesman Colby Crosley. “The passenger was the one who threw the explosive device and the passenger was also the one who fired the projectiles. But there was also someone who was driving him.”
The suspect vehicle was described as a black Acura RL with no license plates, and police shared an image asking for the public’s help in identifying the car. However, Auburn police acknowledged that social media commenters questioned the make and model of the car based on photos shared by investigators.
The suspect was described as a tall man wearing a full black ski mask.
Anyone who recognizes the car or has any information about the case is asked to contact the Auburn Police tip line at 253-288-7403.
“It caused a serious fire. All that said, we’re very thankful no one was hurt. Because this could have been 10 times worse than it was,” Crossley said.
KIRO7 asked Auburn police if the incident was retaliation or how the suspect might have known the victim. Crossley said detectives are still investigating the motive behind the arson and attempted shooting.