Authorities seek suspect in Lewis County triple slaying

John Allen Booth Jr. (Photo courtesy of Lewis County Sheriff's Office)
John Allen Booth Jr. (Photo courtesy of Lewis County Sheriff's Office)

SALKUM – The suspected gunman in a Saturday morning triple homicide in rural Salkum might have been trying to collect on a drug debt, Lewis County authorities said.

Officers were searching for 31-year-old John Allen Booth Jr. of Onalaska, who was considered armed and extremely dangerous, sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Aust said. Officers believe the victims and the shooter knew one another, he said .

After Booth used his cell phone to call a friend about noon, authorities “pinged” his phone and discovered he was in the Spokane area at the time, Aust said.

Booth apparently passed through Spokane and stopped for fuel, but officers searched the area and have no reason to believe he remained in the area, Spokane police spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe said.

Three people were shot to death about 2 a.m. Saturday, and a fourth was flown by helicopter to a hospital in critical condition.

Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield would not confirm the victims’ names .

Lewis County sheriff’s officials think Booth works in Tacoma, but they didn’t have an employer’s name or address, Aust said.

Booth is under Department of Corrections supervision and has a long list of criminal convictions . Community supervision normally occurs out of the office nearest the former inmate’s home. Booth was being supervised in Tacoma; Aust couldn’t explain why that was the case when the Sheriff’s Office listed Booth as living in Onalaska.