Man claims he shot, killed driver outside Washington state casino in self-defense, FBI says

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PORTLAND, Oregon — A man accused of killing a driver he argued with outside a casino in Tacoma acknowledged shooting the man but said it was in self-defense, an FBI agent says in court documents.

Jeremy Schlenker, 27, of Toppenish, Washington, also assaulted his girlfriend and shot a gun in the air in the casino parking lot before blocking Brandon Williams into a parking place and then attacking him when he and a passenger confronted Schlenker, FBI Special Agent Michael Brown said.

Schlenker fled the shooting with his girlfriend and was arrested Saturday afternoon as he drove on Interstate 5 near Salem, Oregon, authorities said. He made an initial court appearance Monday in Portland and was ordered held without bail as he waits to be transferred to Washington state.

A caller told an emergency dispatcher at 11:24 p.m. Friday that Schlenker assaulted his girlfriend and pulled a gun on her, the agent said in court documents establishing probable cause to arrest Schlenker on a murder charge.

An hour later, someone reported to Emerald Queen Casino security that a man later identified as Schlenker was in the parking lot with a gun. A security guard saw Schlenker fire a shot in the air before getting into a silver car, Brown wrote. Schlenker and his girlfriend then drove around the parking lot.

Minutes later, he blocked Williams' vehicle from backing out of a parking space and then got out of his Chevy Malibu. One of the three women in Williams' car got out to talk to Schlenker.

When Williams joined the argument, Schlenker pistol-whipped the Puyallup man and shot him twice, the agent wrote.

Brown said a security guard witnessed the killing along with the passengers, and it was captured on casino surveillance video.

Police stopped Schlenker's car after following him from Vancouver, Washington. A .40-caliber pistol fell out of a sleeping bag that was in the vehicle, Brown said, and the shell casings found in the parking lot were from such a pistol.

Schlenker, an enrolled member of the Crow Indian Tribe, confessed after being read his Miranda rights, but said he acted in self-defense, Brown wrote.

The documents do not provide further details on Schlenker's side of the story. Gerald Needham, the federal public defender who represented him at Monday's hearing in Portland, did not return a message.

Seattle FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich said the agency would not comment further on the investigation.

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