Man suspected of killing WSP trooper was in the country illegally, ICE says

Mar 6, 2024, 5:04 AM | Updated: 7:10 am

Image: Raul Benitez Santana is suspected of killing a WSP trooper....

Raul Benitez Santana is suspected of killing a WSP trooper. (Image courtesy of KIRO 7 News)

(Image courtesy of KIRO 7 News)

The man suspected of hitting and killing a Washington State Patrol (WSP) trooper early Saturday on Interstate 5 (I-5) was in the country illegally, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE said Raul Benitez Santana is a citizen of Mexico.

More on the incident: Lynnwood man charged in death of 27-year-old Wash. State Patrol Trooper

Man accused of killing WSP trooper had 4 run-ins with the law

It’s not known when Santana entered the country but an ICE spokesperson confirmed he’s had at least four run-ins with the law in Washington.

The earliest dates back to May 3, 2013, when he was caught driving while his license was suspended. The Lynnwood Municipal Court issued Santana a $750 fine.

On May 16, 2013, Santana was sentenced to 90 days of incarceration for possessing marijuana.

Seattle Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO Seattle) first encountered him on Oct. 28, 2013, at the South Correction Entity in Burien. Santana had been arrested for failing to appear for driving with a suspended license. He was sentenced to 90 days of incarceration, ICE said.

On May 24, 2019, he was scheduled at King County Superior Court for domestic violence assault, however, ICE did not release any additional information on those charges.

Santana is currently being held in the Snohomish County Jail and is facing vehicular homicide charges in the death of 27-year-old trooper Christopher Gadd.

Santana admitted to smoking and drinking before the crash

Prosecutors said Santana admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking beer before he crashed into Gadd’s patrol vehicle. Gadd was parked on the shoulder of I-5 south near Marysville on Saturday around 3 a.m. when his vehicle was hit.

A witness told deputies the SUV was moving fast, swerved and then hit the back of Gadd’s vehicle. The SUV then ricocheted off the patrol vehicle and stopped in the fast lane where it was hit by a van with six people inside.

More on the WSP: Man faces multiple charges after WSP trooper shooting in Kent

“It is with a heavy heart that we report we lost a brother today,” WSP spokesperson Chris Loftis told KIRO Newsradio Saturday. “The troopers sign up for danger. They are brave people.”

Gadd is the 33rd WSP trooper killed in the line of duty. He is survived by his wife Cammryn and their two-year-old daughter.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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