He’s charged in a fatal Tacoma shooting but claims he was ‘just out jogging’

A man suspected of a fatal shooting in a Tacoma parking lot told police he wasn’t involved and had just been in the area jogging.

On Wednesday, 48-year-old Erik Alvarez pleaded not guilty at arraignment in Pierce County Superior Court to second-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Commissioner Craig Adams set bail at $1 million.

Medical examiners have not released the victim’s name.

It was not immediately clear whether Alvarez knew the victim.

Charging papers give this account:

Police were called about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday to the parking lot of a tavern at East L Street and Puyallup Avenue.

They found the victim suffering from a gunshot wound.

He was taken to Tacoma General Hospital, where he died an hour later.

Witnesses told police they heard two gunshots and saw an older four-door vehicle pull out of the parking lot and drive away. One witness was able to jot down a license plate. Another saw the victim slowly jog out of the parking lot before collapsing on the sidewalk.

Officers searched the area and spotted a vehicle matching the getaway car as it pulled into a convenience store.

By the time the officer did a U-turn, the suspect went inside the store.

Alvarez was found kneeling in the back of the store and taken into custody.

Employees at the convenience store told detectives Alvarez used the bathroom then appeared to “nervously hide,” records say.

Surveillance video showed Alvarez wander the store for five minutes, go into the bathroom and come out with wet, slicked back hair and no glasses.

He denied being involved in a homicide and said, “I was just out jogging ... and doing some push-ups,” according to charging papers.

Surveillance footage from the scene of the shooting shows Alvarez pull into the tavern parking lot and raise the hood of his car.

He then steps behind the hood, out of sight.

When the video starts again — it’s motion activated — the victim is already standing beside the vehicle talking to Alvarez.

He can be seen stumbling backward and collapsing after a few feet.

Alvarez shuts the hood of his car, pulls out of the parking lot and heads in the direction of the convenience store.

Police searched Alvarez’s car and the store but did not find the murder weapon.

A sock full of ammunition was found in the back of his vehicle, records say.

Alvarez is prohibited from possessing a gun because he is a felon. Previous convictions include residential burglary, hit and run, attempting to elude and malicious mischief.

At the time of his arrest, Alvarez had a warrant out of Yakima for first-degree burglary and felony harassment.

Staff writer Alexis Krell contributed to this report.
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