Tacoma Man Charged With Murder in 'Random, Brutal' Carjacking in Federal Way


King County prosecutors say a 20-year-old man was eating takeout in his parked car outside a Federal Way shopping center last month when a stranger fatally shot him, pulled him from the vehicle and drove off.

Leonel Gonzalez, 35, of Tacoma, was charged Friday with first-degree murder in the Dec. 8  death of Ruvim Stukov, who was shot three times and died at the scene, charging papers say. Prosecutors have requested that Gonzalez, a felon who was last released from prison in June for a 2015 attempted robbery, be held without bail because of his history of violence and the fact he is facing a potential life sentence if convicted of murder, court records show.

Noting that Stukov and Gonzalez were "complete strangers," Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Petersen wrote in charging papers that Stukov's killing "appears to be a random, brutal and senseless carjacking."

Gonzalez was arrested Dec. 9 by Pierce County sheriff's deputies after he passed out on a bus and was found with a .38-caliber handgun that had been reported stolen to Lakewood police, according to court records. He is also charged in Pierce County Superior Court with third-degree rape, accused of raping a 17-year-old girl who he lured to a Fife motel room in July under the guise of planning his son's birthday party, say the charges filed in that case.

As of Monday, Gonzalez remained jailed in Pierce County in lieu of $125,000 bail, jail records show.

Federal Way police responded to a report of a shooting in the parking lot of a frozen yogurt store at The Crossings, a shopping center in the 1400 block of South 348th Street, around 9:45 p.m. on Dec. 8. The 911 caller, who witnessed the shooting, told officers that the shooter had fled in the victim's silver car, charging papers say.

Officers found an unresponsive man, later identified as Stukov, on the ground with gunshot wounds and several .40-caliber shell casings nearby, say the charges.

A friend of Stukov's flagged down an officer at the scene and said Stukov's family contacted him after Stukov failed to return home from church that night. The friend, who had last seen Stukov at the church around 9 p.m., said Stukov typically stopped at a Panda Express fast-food restaurant at The Crossings for dinner on his way home, according to charging documents.

Family members, who had tracked Stukov's iPhone to The Crossings, also arrived and told police Stukov had been driving his brother's silver Toyota Camry. The car was reported stolen and the next day, the Camry was found abandoned in Tacoma, say the charges.

A fingerprint found inside the Camry was matched to Gonzalez on Jan. 7 and Federal Way police detectives learned he was in custody at the Pierce County Jail, according to the charges. They obtained a warrant to search his property at the jail and found a wallet, bank card and phone charger believed to belong to Stukov, along with a receipt with blood and Stukov's father's name on it, say the charges.

Police also used phone records and video-surveillance footage — including footage of the homicide — to reconstruct Gonzalez's movements in the hours leading up to Stukov's killing, charging papers say.