The 20-year-old woman who was shot and killed in a Redmond home over the weekend has been identified as a 2010 graduate of Eastlake High School.
Claire Thompson was shot in the neck early Sunday morning when a gun was recklessly discharged at a party in the Education Hill neighborhood.
The King County Prosecutor’s office has charged 21-year-old Cornelius J. De Jong IV of Redmond with first-degree manslaughter for Sunday morning’s shooting.
De Jong’s arraignment is set for Feb. 27 and he remains in King County Jail on $300,000 bail, according to charging documents. Prosecutors pointed out in the charging papers that De Jong has past convictions for driving under the influence and minor in possession of alcohol.
De Jong was at a party early Sunday morning at the house and fired a 40-caliber semiautomatic handgun, which he thought was unloaded, according to charging papers. The bullet traveled through a wall and struck Thompson, who was standing on the other side of the wall.
“It’s very sad,” said Paige Norman, who has lived three houses down from the home where the shooting occurred for the last 20 years. “I’m sorry someone had to lose a life, but it’s not really a surprise.”
Police initially responded at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday to an “unknown trouble call,” according to a Redmond Police Department press release. Upon arrival officers found Thompson with a gunshot wound to the neck. She was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and was pronounced dead at 9:58 a.m.
“It does not appear to be pre-meditated,” said Jim Bove, spokesman for the RPD. “That is the reason for the manslaughter charge, rather than homicide.”
When police arrived, there were at least seven or eight people at the house and alcohol was definitely being consumed by the people at the house, Bove said.
“We are certain there was alcohol consumed in the house that evening, but how much and to what extent is still being investigated,” Bove said in an email.
Police said De Jong appeared drunk after the incident and refused a breath test. The witness who called to report the shooting told dispatchers, “My best friend shot a girl in the house, he was drunk,” according to charging papers.
De Jong arrived at the party with the handgun, which he was known to carry. The charging documents said De Jong has a concealed-weapons permit, which was issued by the Redmond Police Department.
De Jong had placed the gun in a safe at the house because he said he would be drinking alcohol, but his friend and grandson to the homeowner requested to see the firearm. The charging documents stated that when the gun was taken from the safe, the gun magazine and live round were ejected.
Several people handled the gun and afterwards, De Jong placed it in an unsecured kitchen cupboard for safekeeping. De Jong fell asleep on the couch and woke up to find the gun missing. The gun had been placed in a bedroom under a mattress, according to the charging papers.
When De Jong retrieved the gun, charging documents state another person in the room “objected to the handgun being handled while the subjects were under the influence of intoxicating liquor.” De Jong removed the gun magazine and pulled back the slide “halfway to three-fourths,” the charging papers stated. He then pointed the gun at the wall and pulled the trigger to show it was empty, not knowing there was still a live round in the chamber.
De Jong initially told police that the gun fired when he lifted the mattress to retrieve it. However, a detective wrote in the charging papers “this is impossible given the trajectory of the bullet, several feet up from the floor.”
A team from the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab assisted Redmond police with the crime scene investigation. Bove said Redmond police are currently “tying up loose ends” in the investigation.
Another neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, also said the house where the shooting happened was a noisy place with lots of activity going on in the middle of the night.
This neighbor said he was awoken at around 3:20 a.m. the morning of the shooting to “a lot of shouting” in the yard of the house. He said he didn’t call police and went back to sleep, but was awoken again minutes later to the sound of yelling police officers, who had their guns drawn.
The anonymous neighbor said the house had a history of noise and late-night parties and like Norman, he said he has called the police in the past regarding noise and altercations at the house.
Bove did confirm in an email that Redmond police have responded to the house in the past for “things such as noise, physical altercation, etc.” But Bove did point out that the last police response to the house was in 2007.
Bove said police will respond to the house in the future if something is reported by neighbors.
“If we get calls we would certainly go out there,” Bove said. “If there was anything going on there, you would think it would settle down. The worst has already happened.”