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Ten homicides reported in King County since start of June, family of victim calls for justice

Detectives are investigating a shooting outside outside Paradise Cafe on 16th SW on June 12. (KIRO 7, Deborah Horne)

The family of a man who was shot and killed while driving his car Tuesday evening is calling for justice.

“I really, I just can’t believe why anybody would ever try to hurt him,” Diego said as he stood with family members in front of a mangled fence near 129th Street and Fourth Avenue SW in Burien, where glass from his in-law’s car was still scattered across the ground.

Just 24 hours prior, Diego’s brother-in-law, Juan Barahona, was critically injured after a shooter opened fire on his car as he was driving near 129th Street and Fourth Avenue Southwest.

Juan’s 2-year-old son was just a few feet away in the back seat when it happened, and he was unharmed; but Juan ultimately succumbed to his injuries as he was being transported to Harborview Medical Center.

“There’s really no words to express [it]… I wish I could have done something,” Diego continued.

This was the first time Juan’s family saw the crash site. Juan’s wife, Edith, fought back tears as Diego and Juan’s biological brother Marvin stared in disbelief.

Diego translated for Marvin, a Spanish speaker, as he shared his feelings.

“[The shooter] took his brother away from him, it’s just an emptiness,” Diego translated.

“We grew up together, we work together, we live together, so they really just took a whole chunk of my life, a whole piece of me,” Marvin continued.

Juan’s family described him as a good, hardworking man, and an overall great person and father.

“He still really doesn’t get why people would try to hurt him,” Diego said as he continued to translate for Marvin.

Juan’s death marks the 17th homicide case to take place so far this year in King County, 10 of which took place within the first 15 days of June.

“That’s not a statistic that we take lightly,” said Sgt. Tim Meyer with the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO).

“It’s a trend that concerns us,” Meyer continued. “We had 24 homicides in 2020 and, if this trend continues, it puts us potentially on pace for 30% more violent crimes [in 2021].”

KCSO does not know what is driving the spike in violent crime, and while the majority of those recent cases took place within southwest King County, they do not have reason to believe they are connected.

“What we know is that it can be stopped, and it can be stopped quickly if we can get folks to slow down, bring the temperature down, have people be mindful that once you pull that trigger that is a bullet you can never take back,” Meyer said.

MCSO intends to ramp up enforcement in hot spot areas and engage in further community outreach to try to stifle the growing statistics.

Still, many cases are unsolved and many suspects are still on the loose, including the person responsible for Juan’s death.

“Seventeen homicides so far in 2021, 10 this month, it is taxing on all of our members, physically, emotionally and otherwise, but they’re not going to give up. We’re going to continue to investigate these, those suspects will be found and we’re going to hold them accountable,” Meyer continued. “We owe it to [Juan’s] family, to this community to bring justice to those family members.”

Juan’s family knows nothing will bring him back, and while nothing will ever be able to fill the void, they believe justice would be a good place to start.

“[Juan] left my sister, a wife and a 2-year-old son alone, and for a man that didn’t deserve it,” Diego said. “So please, if anyone knows anything, please speak up.”

A fundraising page has been set up to help the family cover funeral costs. Any remaining funds will go to his surviving wife and baby. That page can be found here.

Residents with information pertaining to the case are asked to call KCSO’s anonymous tip line at 206-296-3311.

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