Ballistics technology studied to possibly link Skyway double homicide to other crimes

SEATTLE – King County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a double homicide that occurred Thursday night in Skyway.

“Those shell casing leaves unique marking behind almost like a fingerprint,” said Frank Kelsey, ATF Seattle Field Division Asst. Special Agent in Charge.

Shell casing from the crime scene are collected and taken to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab in Seattle.  Casings from one scene tested against others from a different crime using 3D imagining to leave little doubt if they match and came from the same gun.

“I may use it in this crime," Kelsey said. "You may use it in the next crime. And, yes, those crimes will travel across state, city and county lines."

The shell casings get entered into the NIBIN {National Integrated Ballistic Information Network} Program to try to figure out if the Skyway murders were linked to other crimes anywhere else in the nation or more closely -other violence in south King County.

“Working with our partners regionally to go after all gangs; from Aryan Nation to the gangs we’re having in the south end right now,” said King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht.

Criminals without borders is why King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht has asked the county council for funding for a regional gang unit with money to hire a dedicated ballistic technician.

“It would free up the detectives to work the lead part of it.  Follow through with the crime scene investigation and allow them to follow up on the actual crime fighting aspects, the interviews, the arrests and warrants,” said Kelsey.

Technicians can get a hit in as little as an hour or longer if there are more possible links to investigate.  With the US Department of Justice announcing more funding to create more NIBIN labs across the country just this week, the technology to link crimes together and track down suspects continues to get stronger.

“In the 1920s fingerprinting became prevalent, in the 1990s DNA became very prevalent. Today’s technology is ballistics identification,” said Kelsey.

Washington State Patrol’s office in Cheney, Washington in Spokane County just received funding to build a new NIBIN system.  It’ll likely take four to six months before all three major hubs for WSP are equipped with the ballistics technology.