Courtesy of Renton Police Department. Photos of the suspect in Rylee Russell Mark’s death, 30-year-old Kelcey M. Gornowich.

Courtesy of Renton Police Department. Photos of the suspect in Rylee Russell Mark’s death, 30-year-old Kelcey M. Gornowich.

Shooting suspect arrested in Tacoma

Kelsey Gornowich set on a $1 million bond

The suspect in the shooting of 27-year-old Rylee Russell Marks was arrested in Tacoma on Monday, March 2. She has been booked in King County Jail for homicide investigation, according to the jail log.

Renton Police Department named 30-year-old Kelsey M. Gornowich as the suspect last week following investigation of the shooting, which occurred Feb. 16 at a homeless encampment in Renton on the 13200 block of 89th Avenue South. Police state that the two got into an argument, sources who knew them have told Renton Reporter that the two were possibly a couple.

According to charging documents sent to the Renton Reporter from the King County Prosecutor’s office, Gornowich murdered Russell Marks, who suffered from Cerebral Palsy, with a pellet gun typically used to shoot small game, such as rabbits and birds. The state set bail at $1 million and she has been deemed a “danger to the community” and a flight risk.

“By her own admission she fired multiple times at Mr. Marks at close range with a pellet rifle designed for hunting because she was frustrated and angry that he was yelling and would not leave, blamed others present for not making him leave and then blamed him for walking into the fatal shot, which struck him squarely in the chest,” the charging documents state. “She then left the scene, leaving her tent and virtually all of her possessions behind, and successfully evaded capture by law enforcement officers who were actively looking for her for more than two weeks following the murder.”

Gornowich, who was known by many people by her street name “Loki,” had a criminal history consisting of an adult felony conviction for Attempt to Elude in 2015, a misdemeanor conviction for criminal trespassing in 2018, a misdemeanor VUCSA solicitation charge from 2014 and a misdemeanor theft charge from 2013.

What the probable cause documents outline

A property located on the 13000 block of 89th Avenue South in Renton includes a 17,562-square-foot lot with no buildings but many “junked vehicles, travel trailers, shipping containers and make-shift structures,” which is a well-known homeless encampment, according to the charging documents.

At 12:23 a.m. on Feb. 16, Renton Police received a 911 call from a man named John Spears. Spears told the 911 operator that his friend, later identified as Russell Marks, had been shot in the chest with a BB gun and needed medical attention, the charging documents state. Spears was not able to provide an address for his location. Dispatch was able to determine where the call was coming from and sent emergency services.

Officer D. Nelson arrived and found Russell Marks lying next to a fire pit. Russell Marks was wearing a black t-shirt, sweats and was covered in a gray blanket. He was laying on his left side and was extremely pale. Nelson was unable to detect a pulse and began CPR on Russell Marks. Officer Bowie arrived to the scene to assist with rescue efforts, the probably cause documents states. The officers removed Russell Mark’s shirt to use a defibrillator when the officers discovered what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the victim’s chest.

“The injury was described by the officers as a small, circular wound on the right pectoral area near his sternum,” the documents states. “Officers applied the AED to Marks which advised no shock was required. Medical personnel from the Renton Fire Authority and Medic One arrived quickly and took over lifesaving measures. Marks did not survive the shot to his chest.”

Officer began checking the area for spent shells but couldn’t find any. Three men who were near Russell Marks were interviewed by the police. Spears, also known as “Skitzo,” had told the 911 operator Russell Marks was shot by another “resident” on the property. A second witness, Jeremy Kletzmayer, told officers Russell Marks was shot with a BB gun, but later described the weapon as a high-powered pellet rifle.

On Feb. 18, Kletzmeaer provided a recorded statement saying Gornowich shot Russell Marks with her pellet rifle. Renton Officers had known Gornowich lived on the property since 2018. Kletzmayer identified Gornowich as the suspect “Loki” after police showed him multiple photos.

Kletzmayer told the officers he was speaking with another encampment resident at the resident’s trailer. Kletzmayer was standing on the trailer “porch” and could see Gornowich’s tent, the fire pit and Russell Marks, according to the charging documents.

Kletzmayer said he could see Russell Marks was “clearly intoxicated,” because he was yelling and being loud. He was going to walk over and tell Russell Marks to be quiet when he saw Gornowich standing near the entrance of her tent with her pellet rifle held up to her shoulder, allegedly pointing the weapon at Russell Marks.

“Keltzmayer heard Marks yelling ‘Do it! Shoot me!’ Kletzmayer said he heard Gornowich tell Marks to leave while point her pellet rifle at him. Kletzmayer watche Gornowich shoot next to Marks into the dirt and explained, ‘She shot next to him a couple of times before she shot at him,’” the charging documents state. “Kletzmayer told investigators he watch Gornowich reload the pellet rifle then intentionally assaulted Marks by shooting him with her pellet rifle. He heard Marks yell at Gornowich to ‘Do it again!’ Kletzmayer watched Marks start to gather up his belongings getting ready to go. Since Marks was now being quiet and gathering his belongings to leave he stopped paying attention to the activity at Gornowich’s tent.”

Kletzmayer told investigators he didn’t think anything was wrong with Russell Marks until Spears called him over to help him with Russell Marks. Keltzmayer said he went to the fire pit and noticed Gornowich was gone.

“Kletzmayer said he has seen Gornowich use the same rifle on different occasions, shooting ‘rats and stuff, what it’s intended for,’” the charging documents state.

On Feb. 19, Spears gave a similar account as Kletzmayer but added that after Russell Marks started gathering his belongings he suddenly grabbed his chest and fell to the ground. Spears told investigators he believed the pellet rifle Gornowich allegedly used had the equivalent firepower of a .22 caliber rifle, the charging documents state.

After receiving a search warrant, Renton police investigated the encampment and Gornowich’s tent where they found a container of lead pellets.

“These particular pellets are Crossman brand Premier Destroyer, .177 caliber, 4.5 milimeter that have a pointed tip,” the charging documents state. “The pellet Gornowich (allegedly) shot Marks with entered in between his ribs and pierced his heart.”

On March 2 investigators were notified that Gornowich was arrested by Tacoma Police in Fife and transported to Renton City Hall on an outstanding warrant.

Gornowich agreed to speak with investigators, the charging documents state. During the interview Gornowich said she was upset with Russell Marks for being loud near her tent. She told investigators she had been friends with Russell Marks since 2007. Gornowich said she told Russell Marks to leave several times but he would not leave and no other residents at the encampment would help. Gornowich said she grabbed her pellet gun and shot to the left of Russell Marks to make him leave but he refused.

“Gornowich said on the third shot she was not aiming it at Marks but that he ‘walked into it.’ Gornowich described it as Marks was trying to get shot and walked into her line of fire,” the charging documents states.

Gornowich didn’t believe Russell Marks was hurt until Spears was on the phone with 911. Gornowich told others to place Russell Marks on his side and found him a blanket. She then left the property with another resident to “go pee.” According to the charging documents, Gornowich told other to make Russell Marks leave the property and blamed their lack of intervening on Russell Marks death. She allegedly admitted to police investigators she went on the run and did not turn herself in because she was afraid to go to jail.

Gornowich is being charged with murder in the second degree.

The Renton Reporter recently reported on the life of Russell Marks, who had experienced homelessness in Renton since he was young. That story is available here.

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