Police Shooting at Lucky Eagle Casino in Washington Ends in Murder Suspect Death
In a dramatic incident at the Lucky Eagle Casino in Rochester, Washington, Darren Evans, a 33-year-old man from Yelm, Washington, was fatally shot by an unnamed Chehalis Tribal police officer.
The shooting occurred on Sunday night. It prompted the closure of the casino as investigations commenced.
Police had been tipped off about Evans’ presence in the casino and had an arrest warrant connected to a 2022 murder case.
The exact circumstances that led to the fatal shots are still unclear. But the matter is under investigation by Tribal, local, and federal authorities, including the FBI.
“Over the next week, we will continue investigating the incident, contacting witnesses, and gathering evidence,” the Thurston County Sherriff’s Office said in a social media post on the incident.
The Shooting Incident
Evans was inside the Lucky Eagle Casino when he was approached by the officer.
A witness recounted her view of the incident to local radio station KOMO.
“He was running toward my direction. I think he tried to get to the front door exit, and then all of a sudden, I see the officer shot him right in the middle of the floor,” Dee Thomas said.
Whether Evans was armed or posed an immediate threat to the officer remains unclear. Despite attempts by officers to render aid after the shooting, Evans succumbed to his injuries on the scene.
“You think you’re going to a public place that’s a safe place, that’s secure, and anything could happen,” said Thomas.
Background of the Suspect
Evans was wanted for two counts of first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm in Pierce County.
He was accused of killing Dion Bartro, 52, of Puyallup, Washington, who died from multiple gunshot wounds following an incident in Graham, Washington, on September 25, 2022.
The shooter, suspected to be Evans by police, fled into a wooded area and evaded capture.
Slightly more than a year later, Evans was sighted in the Lucky Eagle, which sparked off the chain of events that ended in his death.
Investigation and Casino Closure
The shooting has led to the temporary closure of the Lucky Eagle Casino, operated by the Chehalis Tribe, located approximately 25 miles southwest of Olympia.
The incident is under investigation by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the FBI, and the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. A key focus of the investigation will be determining whether the use of deadly force by the Tribal officer was justified.
Under usual circumstances, an officer is permitted to discharge a firearm in defense against an imminent threat of deadly physical force.
Previously, Evans was convicted on various charges, including escape, burglary, bail jumping, ID theft, and assault, according to police records seen by local journalists.
The ongoing closure of the Lucky Eagle Casino will likely impact the local community and the operations of the Chehalis Tribe.
The Lucky Eagle is one of around 30 Washington state casinos, all operated by the state’s various Tribes.
Shootings are relatively rare at these venues, although a gunman shot three people, one fatally, at the Roxbury Lanes & Casino in southwest Seattle earlier in 2023.
The suspect has since been arrested and charged with various counts of murder and attempted murder. He is awaiting trial.