Crime

Man shot, killed in parking lot of Tacoma tavern has been identified

A 48-year-old man shot and killed in the parking lot of a Tacoma tavern last weekend has been identified.

Police pieced together what led up to Ernest Searcy’s death, but they haven’t figured out the why.

Erik Alvarez, also 48, was ordered held on $1 million bail Wednesday after pleading not guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Detectives have not said whether the men knew each other, but they had a confrontation Tuesday morning at East L Street and Puyallup Avenue.

Surveillance footage shows the men talking in the parking lot after Alvarez pulled in and put up the hood of his car.

Searcy “does not appear to physically threaten the defendant in any way with a weapon, nor does he move towards the defendant,” Pierce County prosecutors wrote in charging papers.

The victim stumbled backward and almost immediately collapsed on the sidewalk after being shot in the chest.

Although passersby and police both attempted CPR, Searcy died shortly after being taken to Tacoma General Hospital.

Multiple witnesses said they heard two gunshots, saw Searcy go down and a sedan pull out of the parking lot. One person was able to jot down the license plate.

An officer in the area spotted a vehicle matching the suspect’s pull into a convenience store. The driver got out and looked like he was about to take off running, court records say.

By the time the officer turned around to park at the convenience store, the suspect was inside.

Police found Alvarez kneeling in the back of the store and store employees said he was trying to “nervously hide,” records say.

Alvarez denied being involved in a homicide and claimed he’d been working out in the area.

“I was just out jogging ... and doing some push-ups,” he allegedly told detectives.

The murder weapon has not been found.

Police searched the convenience store and Alvarez’s car, but only found a sock full of ammunition.

Alvarez is prohibited from possessing a gun because he is a felon. His prior 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.

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