Crime

Man accused of killing panhandler outside Grand Mound McDonald’s held without bail

If you witness a crime, here’s what to do

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.
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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

A man accused of shooting and killing another man, who authorities believe was transient, outside McDonald’s near Grand Mound Tuesday evening appeared in Thurston County Superior Court Wednesday.

Bryan M. Owens, 59, appeared before Judge Chris Lanese, who found probable cause for charges of second-degree murder while armed with a deadly weapon.

The Olympian is not naming the victim at this time because Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock said the victim’s out-of-state family has not been notified. The man, Warnock said, was in his late 30s.

Lanese ordered Owens held without bail, saying there was convincing evidence that Owens shows a propensity for violence and may be a “loose cannon who might go off again.” Owens was ordered to surrender firearms and have no contact with witnesses in the case.

“This defendant is not someone who should be in our community pending the disposition of this court for safety reasons,” Lanese said during the proceedings.

Owens’ arraignment was set for Sept. 17.

According to a prosecutor’s declaration supporting probable cause, Thurston County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of shots fired at the McDonald’s on Old Highway 99 in the Grand Mound area at 5:19 p.m. Tuesday. There, they found a man lying on his back with blood on his shirt and Owens standing by a car with a gun on its hood.

Owens told a deputy he was “the only person that did any shooting,” that the gun was his, and that he had a permit to carry, according to the declaration.

All witness accounts of the incident describe three men involved in an altercation that ultimately led to one man’s death: Owens, the victim, and a third man.

While it’s not mentioned in the prosecutor’s declaration supporting probable cause, Lt. Ray Brady with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office told The Olympian it’s believed both the third man and the victim were panhandling in the area. The third man, Brady said, is reportedly a “regular panhandler” at the McDonald’s location, while the victim was transient and is believed to have been in the area only for about a week.

In an interview with law enforcement, Owens allegedly said he had never met the victim or the third man before the incident.

Owens allegedly told law enforcement he saw the third man panhandling in front of the restaurant “and decided he needed to contact him and find out why he was there.”

According to one witness account, Owens approached the third man and “asked if he was panhandling and was he a pedophile.” The men allegedly began arguing.

The victim approached the other two men, according to Owens and the two witness accounts. According to one witness, Owens said “You are not welcome here” and “we don’t want you here.”

Owens and the victim then started physically fighting — at one point, a witness and Owens said, the two ended up on the ground. Two witnesses said they intervened; Owens and one of the witnesses said the victim spat on Owens before Owens pulled a semi-automatic handgun from his waist.

Owens said he told the victim he had a gun and to stay back.

Witnesses say the victim rushed at Owens, and Owens then allegedly fired two shots at the victim.

Neither Owens nor witnesses saw a weapon in the victim’s hand, according to the declaration.

Sara Gentzler joined The Olympian in June 2019. She primarily covers Thurston County government and its courts, as well as breaking news. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Creighton University.
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