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Taxi driver says he bought food for man who was killed at depot

When driving his taxi at night, Patrick Yirka keeps his doors locked and wears a cap to hide his eyes.

The 52-year-old Tumwater resident leaves his passenger-side window cracked to speak to prospective passengers, and he never lets them into his front seat.

But when a man approached about 10 p.m. Monday near the Greyhound bus station in downtown Olympia and tried to open Yirka's cab door, he was struck by what he sensed was overwhelming sadness and desperation from the man.

"He looked like he had a hard life," Yirka said Wednesday. He recalled that the man's hands were gnarled and worn.

The man asked when the next bus would arrive, passing Yirka a ticket for a 9:05 p.m. bus to San Francisco that he had missed, Yirka said.

Sensing the man would have to spend the night in the cold, Yirka spent $2.47 to buy the man a hamburger, tacos and water from Jack in the Box.

The man said he was grateful and walked into one of the bus stalls to eat, Yirka said.

The cab driver pulled into the station again about midnight and saw what he thought was an outline of the man under a yellow blanket; he appeared to be sleeping against the wall in one of the bus stalls.

When Yirka came back again, police were there and crime-scene tape crisscrossed the area.

The man was dead.

A passerby saw the body and flagged down a car to call police about 2 a.m., Olympia police Cmdr. Tor Bjornstad said.

The man is described as 35 years old and Hispanic, about 5 feet 5 inches and 140 pounds with short black hair.

He was wearing khaki pants, a dark blue polo shirt, a gray sweatshirt and black tennis shoes, and was carrying a black suitcase.

The Thurston County coroner has ruled the death a homicide. The coroner's office is attempting to notify next of kin before releasing the man's name.

Yirka has talked to police about his encounter with the man. Detectives do not have any suspects but are looking into surveillance videos from nearby businesses, Bjornstad said.

Yirka is shaken up that he might have provided the man's last meal, and he could have been one of the last people to see him alive.

"It just pulled at my heartstrings," he said. "There's something about the guy that touched me."

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