A manhunt is on for a man described in a Renton police report as a “7 time convicted felon” who, as yesterday’s Seattle P-I.com reported, is now charged with assault for igniting a May 22 gunfight at a Renton park that ended with the fatal shooting of Lonnie Lynn Reynolds, a 20-year-old whose tragic death underscores the fallacy of gun control laws.
Authorities want Linzy Jerome Hopkins bad and when they get him, he is likely to stay put because the King County Prosecutor’s office has asked for a $2 million bail. His image is posted on Washington’s Most Wanted. Hopkins is the man suspected of pulling a gun during a brawl involving two women at Liberty Park, assaulting a man trying to intervene and break up the fight, and then trading shots with a second man who was – perhaps to the suspect’s surprise – legally carrying his own handgun, for which he had a valid Washington concealed pistol license.
Hopkins could not legally carry a gun. He could not legally possess a firearm. According to a charging document obtained by Examiner, Hopkins has a rap sheet that includes convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm, drug possession, false identification in the commission of a crime, identity theft, attempted forgery and reckless driving. Renton police initially were searching for him on suspicion of second-degree murder, and the possibility of that charge may not be off the table.
If the police and prosecutors are correct in their allegations, gun control laws pandered as the solution to armed career criminals did not keep Hopkins from packing. What may have halted the mayhem, if the police report is accurate, was the return fire from the second man. It appears Hopkins fired at him solely because he started yelling for people to “get out of here” after seeing Hopkins pistol whip his friend and, according to the report, try to shoot him in the head.
The assault charge pending against Hopkins involves his attack on the first man, identified as Elijah Carroll during which his gun went “click” as he allegedly tried to shoot Carroll, and his attack on the second man – the armed citizen – by trying to shoot him.
This occurred in Renton’s Liberty Park and that means the incident was captured on video. According to the police report, video footage supports the legally-armed citizen’s account, including his statement that he didn’t draw until Hopkins tried to shoot him, but hit a light pole instead. That report also noted that after Hopkins was fired at several times, he retreated back to his car and fled.
According to the P-I.com article, Hopkins may have fled to Mexico. Some in the gun rights community might argue that if there had been even a fraction of the public angst over Reynolds’ tragic slaying, the world would not be big enough for Hopkins to hide in.
Reynolds was an African-American who was at the park with friends, just days after returning home after spending a year in Houston. Hopkins is also black. The legally-armed citizen who fired in self-defense is also African-American.
The incident is still under investigation, so Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said his office is withholding further comment, which is standard procedure.
It is not clear from court papers whose bullet struck Reynolds – Hopkins was allegedly armed with a .40-caliber pistol, origin unknown, while the armed citizen was carrying a 9mm pistol – but under this state’s law, since Hopkins initiated the gunfight, he just might be held responsible. Here’s what the state law says, in part:
(1) A person is guilty of murder in the second degree when:
(a) With intent to cause the death of another person but without premeditation, he or she causes the death of such person or of a third person; or
(b) He or she commits or attempts to commit any felony, including assault, other than those enumerated in RCW 9A.32.030(1)(c), and, in the course of and in furtherance of such crime or in immediate flight therefrom, he or she, or another participant, causes the death of a person other than one of the participants….
Lonnie Lynn Reynolds didn’t hurt anyone. She was apparently just at Liberty Park as a bystander and died for it. The man allegedly responsible for that is now on the run. Yet in the aftermath of her death, there were no marches, rallies or countless hours of national cable television debate. Is it fair to ask why not?
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