Renton woman pleads guilty to pellet gun shooting death

Incident took place at a homeless encampment.

The King County Superior Court sentenced a 34-year-old Renton woman Jan. 12 for the shooting death of a 27-year-old man with cerebral palsy with a “high powered pellet rifle.”

According to prosecutorial documents, Kelcey Marie Gornowich, 34, of Renton, shot and killed Rylee Russell Marks, 27, on Feb. 16, 2020, near the 13200 block of 89th Avenue South at a homeless encampment with a Daisy Powerline 1000 pellet rifle.

The pointed pellets loaded in Gornowich’s rifle, designed for penetration, pierced Marks’s heart, killing him at the scene.

Judge Maureen McKee of the King County Superior Court sentenced Gornowich to nine and a half years in confinement on a count of manslaughter in the first degree.

Gornowich accepted a plea deal on Nov. 30, 2023, pleading guilty to the charge of manslaughter, reduced from murder in the second degree.

“I acted recklessly by shooting a pellet gun in the direction of Rylee Marks,” stated Gornowich in her guilty plea.

Renton police responded to the encampment on Feb. 16, 2020, at approximately 12:23 p.m. after receiving a report of a man shot in the chest requiring medical attention.

Officers discovered Marks lying next to a fire pit at the property with a “small, circular wound” on his chest. Officers and first responders from the Renton Regional Fire Authority and King County Medic One attempted lifesaving measures. Marks died at the scene.

Two witness accounts of the shooting stated Gornowich fired warning shots at Marks prior to reloading and taking aim and shooting Marks, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

One witness account stated Gornowich threatened Marks with the rifle after she became annoyed with his loud noise and shouting. According to the affidavit, the witness stated they saw Gornowich ask Marks to leave, fire a shot at Marks feet, and asked Marks to leave again prior to aiming the pellet rifle directly at him.

One witness said Marks shouted “Do it! Shoot me!” as Gornowich held her rifle at him.

According to the affidavit, Gornovich said in an interview with investigators that she asked Marks to leave the camp multiple times after becoming frustrated with his “loud behavior.” As Marks refused to leave, Gornowich said she retrieved her pellet rifle from her tent and fired two warning shots to the left and right of Marks.

Marks “walked into” the third shot, Gornowich said to investigators.

“Gornowich described it as Marks was trying to get shot and walked into her line of fire,” stated the affidavit.

Gornowich fled the scene after the shooting, leaving her tent and possessions.

A two-week active search for Gornowich ended after Tacoma police arrested Gornowich on March 2, 2020, in Tacoma on her outstanding warrant. King County prosecutors charged Gornowich with murder in the second degree on March 3, 2020.

Gornowich will face an additional 36 months of community custody following her release.

“Rylee, in part because of [his] disability, had his share of problems … but he was in the process of developing into a responsible young man with a wide circle of supportive friends,” read one of several victim impact statements filed in court. “He was murdered at what was a positive turning point in his life. The murder was a waste of a human life for no reason.”