Lakewood police on Saturday were investigating the stabbing death of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier as a potential hate crime.
The altercation that ended in the death of 20-year-old Tevin A. Geike began about 2:30 a.m. with a racial insult shouted at three white soldiers by one of five black men in a passing car, police spokesman Chris Lawler said.
“At this point, it appears that it could have been a hate crime,” Lawler said. “We’re certainly looking at it now as a potential hate crime. We’re not going to say that it is, but according to two guys at the scene, it appears to be racially motivated.”
Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, public affairs officer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said that Geike and his two companions were members of the 7th Infantry Division. Sowers said Geike had been in the Army 35 months and had no combat experience. He could not confirm Geike’s rank.
Geike graduated from high school in North Charleston, S.C., in 2010.
Police said the incident took place in the 12500 block of Pacific Highway Southwest. Officers responded to a 911 call and found Geike suffering from multiple stab wounds. Emergency medical crews responded, but he died at the scene.
Lawler said the two surviving soldiers said they were walking south on Pacific Highway when a vehicle approached them.
“They said someone in the vehicle made some comment about them being white,” Lawler said.
One of the soldiers yelled back something about those in the car treating combat soldiers with disrespect, Lawler said. The car turned around and stopped next to the soldiers. Five black males got out of the car and surrounded the soldiers.
A verbal confrontation started, Lawler said, but the driver called his friends off when he learned some of the soldiers truly were combat veterans.
As the group returned to the car, one of the suspects appeared to bump into Geike, Lawler said. The two soldiers saw their friend fall to the ground as the car sped away. The soldiers then discovered their companion had been stabbed and was bleeding profusely.
The soldiers told police that the car was a midnight blue sedan, perhaps a BMW or a Volkswagen Jetta, with four doors, tinted windows and stock rims with low-profile tires.
The suspects were described as being in their mid-20s, Lawler said.
Police described the main suspect as about 6 feet 1, medium build and wearing a blue zip-up. The driver was described as being 5 feet 7 with short cropped hair and wearing a blue-and-white horizontal-striped shirt.
One man was described as 5 feet 7 with short hair and wearing a gray tank top. Another man was described as 5 feet 6 to 5 feet 7, wearing camouflage pants (described as paintball splats). The fifth man is described as 5 feet 6.
Investigating officers have recovered some surveillance video, Lawler said, but so far nothing sufficient to identify the suspects or their car.
“There’s a lot of video out there,” he said, “but nothing good enough so far so that we can say, ‘OK, this is who did it.’ ”