Police in Washington state are investigating a possible hate crime after a 20-year-old active-duty soldier was stabbed to death in a parking lot Saturday morning.
Three soldiers were walking from Joint Base Lewis-McChord when a vehicle carrying a group of men passed them and one man shouted a racial slur from the car, a local television station reported.
"One of the soldiers yelled back something about the suspects treating combat soldiers with disrespect," said Lakewood, Wash., police Lt. Chris Lawler.
The vehicle turned around and five black men jumped out, the report said. The driver realized the men were actually combat veterans and called his friends off, but one man in a blue hoodie stabbed the victim before retreating, according to witnesses.
"We came down here, and he was already dead in my brother's arms," said Glenn Zimmerman, a friend of the victim, told KOMO. "I don't understand how someone can do this — that man, he almost gave his life for people to enjoy the freedoms they have and he was just stabbed for no (expletive) reason."
Lt. Lawler said that it's too early to determine if race was a motivating factor, but investigators were looking into treating it as a possible hate crime.
"We are certainly considering it, for sure," he said.
Officers are still looking for the suspect and the driver.
"He's going to get caught," Lt. Lawler said. "Nobody's going to give up until we catch up."
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