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King County Journal
by Noel S. Brady, Journal Reporter
The Seattle teenager charged Thursday for the murder of Newport High School tennis coach Mike Robb recently had stopped taking his antidepressants and started ranting about killing himself, police and white people, according to police and court documents.
In the week prior to Robb’s slaying, police said, officers took Samson Berhe to Harborview Medical Center three times for mental evaluations. Each time doctors found nothing wrong with him, and he was released.
On Thursday — his 18th birthday — Berhe was charged as an adult with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting 46-year-old Robb in the head Sunday night.
If convicted, he faces 25 to 31 years in prison.
After Berhe was arrested on a barge on the Duwamish River on Monday afternoon, charging papers say, he scorned detectives, addressing them as “all you haters” and “all you (expletive) white people.”
He made faces, contorted his lips, spoke in multiple voices, spit and drooled, the papers say. Then he flexed his arms and challenged detectives to a fight.
Robb is white; Berhe is black. Prosecutors are considering additional charges because witnesses say the slaying was motivated by hate and racism.
According to prosecutors, a woman who lives near Berhe told detectives Berhe had stated at least a dozen times that he intended to kill white people.
“I’m going to kill all the white people,” the woman recalled him saying.
Another neighbor said he saw Berhe with the shotgun several times last week.
Sometime the day of the shooting, he said, Berhe came to his house, held out a handful of yellow shotgun shells and announced he was going to kill every white person he saw.
Robb was memorialized at a Seattle church Thursday. He leaves behind his wife, Elsa, who teaches French at Newport High School, and their 14-month-old daughter Louisa.
Robb coached the varsity girls tennis team at Newport High, as well as the junior varsity boys team. He also was a tennis umpire who had previously worked the U.S. Open.
Eyewitnesses to the shooting told police they saw Robb’s black Volkswagen Jetta flash its hazard lights and slow to a stop near a man dressed all in black about 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the 4800 block of West Marginal Way Southwest in West Seattle.
They said they watched as the man standing on the east side of the street removed a long gun from a case and instantly fired into the driver’s side window of the Jetta.
Stunned friends this week said it would’ve been just like Robb to stop for someone on the road if he thought they needed help.
“That’s something Mike would do,” said Robb’s friend and neighbor, Steve Shelton. “Mike would stop for anyone stranded anywhere and lend a hand.”
One witness who lives in a house across the street from the crime scene told Seattle detectives he had noticed the man carrying the rifle case in a park prior to the shooting.
The witness described the man as wearing dark clothing and apparently agitated, possibly yelling or ranting to himself, charging papers state.
Seattle police Thursday compiled a timeline of their run-ins with Berhe leading up to Robb’s slaying.
On June 19, officers went to Berhe’s house on Southwest Dawson Street, a short distance from where the shooting occurred.
Berhe’s mother reported he had yelled “one day I’m going to kill myself!” while listening to loud music in his room.
She also told officers that her son’s doctor recently had taken him off his “mental heath medication.”
When officers questioned him, Berhe denied saying he wanted to kill himself or harm anyone else. He agreed to go with officers to Harborview Medical Center for evaluation.
Three days later, police were back at Berhe’s house, this time for a reported assault on a friend of Berhe’s brother.
The young man told officers that Berhe hit him for no reason. When officers contacted Berhe, he told them he “ruled the world” and “all confused people should be killed.”
Again, he was taken to Harborview for evaluation.
The next day, police said, doctors at Harborview who evaluated Berhe for mental stability concluded he “was not in need of treatment.”
The hospital contacted Berhe’s parents and requested they come and pick him up. But the parents refused, because “they were afraid of him,” hospital staff told police.
Berhe then was released to Child Protective Services.
On June 24, police returned once again to Berhe’s home, where his father reported a friend of Berhe’s had threatened him with a shotgun.
Two days later, the day of the shooting, officers questioned Berhe once again, this time about a reported residential burglary earlier in the day.
An anonymous informant told police Berhe and two other men had been bragging about knowing where the stolen property was.
But they let Berhe go when they failed to connect him with any of the stolen property.
They let him go, police said, despite a 2002 warrant for his arrest.
Berhe allegedly failed to appear in court for charges of auto theft. The Seattle Police Department said they saw no record of the warrant because Berhe’s last name was misspelled on it.
“It’s incredibly unfortunate; that goes without saying,” said Seattle police spokeswoman Debra Brown. “The department did everything that we could to deal with this individual.”
Returning from shopping trip
From receipts found in Robb’s car, detectives determined that he had been driving home from Southcenter just prior to the shooting, court papers say.
Detectives think he had been driving north on West Marginal Way but turned around for some reason before he stopped.
After searching the West Seattle neighborhood through the night following Robb’s slaying, police found a 20-gauge, pump-action shotgun with a black barrel and brown stock laying in the grass a short distance from the crime scene.
When detectives interviewed one of Berhe’s friends, the young man said he and Berhe had practiced firing the shotgun in a secluded area just north of Berhe’s home.
He said Berhe had grown increasingly agitated and angry in recent days.
Berhe told him “I got to shoot a cop or shoot a white person, you know, before I leave this world,” the man told detectives.
He later showed detectives their makeshift shooting range, the court documents state. Detectives collected 16 shotgun shells, one live round and an empty box of shells, all the same color, type and caliber as the round used to kill Robb.
On Thursday, Berhe was transferred from the King County Youth Center the county’s adult jail in Seattle.
He’s scheduled for arraignment July 7. At that time, prosecutors intend to ask a judge to set his bail at $1 million, Donohoe said.
STORE RAISING MONEY FOR ROBB’S DAUGHTER
iSold It of Washington, a store chain that helps people sell items on eBay, is helping raise money for the 14-month-old daughter of Mike Robb.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Louisa Robb Education Fund can bring items with an expected eBay selling price of $30 or more to an iSold It store. Proceeds from sales will go to the fund.
iSold It of Washington has four stores in Western Washington: in Kent at 25844 10th Ave. S.E.; in Seattle at 3000 15th Ave. W.; in Federal Way at 31653 Pacific Highway S., Suite D; and in Puyallup at 4102 Meridian Street S., Suite E-5.
— Journal Staff
A timeline compiled by the Seattle Police Department, tracking their contact with Samson Berhe during the week prior to the murder of Mike Robb.
* June 19, 3:51 p.m.: Seattle police officers respond to the report of a suicidal man at 1810 S.W. Dawson St., Samson Berhe’s residence. Berhe’s mother reports her son is in his room, listening to loud music and yelling “one day I’m going to kill myself.” She tells police that her son’s doctor recently took him off of his mental-heath medication. Berhe denies wanting to kill himself, and agrees to go with officers to Harborview Medical Center for a mental evaluation. He is later released.
* June 22, 6:10 p.m.: Officers respond to a reported assault at Berhe’s house. A friend of Berhe’s brother says Berhe struck him for no apparent reason. Officers contact Berhe, who says he “rule(s) the world” and that “all confused people should be killed.” Berhe is taken to Harborview for evaluation and later released.
* June 23, 2:06 a.m.: Officers respond to a report of an “abandoned child” at Harborview. Berhe’s parents refuse to take him home after doctors conclude he “was not in need of treatment.”
* June 24, 9:39 a.m.: Officers respond to Berhe’s house after his father reports being threatened with a shotgun by a friend of Berhe’s. Police report Berhe came to the aid of his father and told his friend to “leave his father alone.” Berhe and his friend are gone when police arrive.
* June 26, 4:30 p.m.: Officers respond to a residential burglary that occurred earlier in the day. An anonymous witness tells police that Raymond Valencia and Berhe “had been bragging” about knowing the location of stolen property. Officers question Berhe and Valencia. They find Valencia holding a watch matching one stolen in the burglary. But Berhe has no stolen property on him, so he’s released.
Valencia leads officers to an unoccupied house in the 1800 block Southwest Brandon Street, where investigators recover the rest of the stolen goods. Police try to book Valencia into the King County Jail, but the jail refuses him due to a medical condition. He is taken to Harborview Medical Center, and later walks away unguarded.
* 7:30 p.m.: Mike Robb is fatally shot in the head with a shotgun after stopping his black Volkswagen Jetta in the 4800 block of West Marginal Way Southwest in West Seattle.