EVERETT, Wash. – A North Sound family is reeling after the sudden and tragic loss of a father of three.
Steven Whitemarsh was killed Saturday when police in Everett say a road-rage incident turned violent.
The suspect, a 74-year-old man from Everett, claims he acted in self-defense and told police he shot Whitemarsh twice in his face.
On Tuesday the suspect was charged with second degree murder.
“He was a great man, he was taken way too early,” said Matthew Whitemarsh, Steven’s younger brother.
Matthew says his older brother was friendly and affectionate and will be sorely missed.
“He was a great father,” said Matthew, “He took care of my mom when she needed it the most.”
Police say the incident happened along Glenwood Avenue. Witnesses to the crash told investigators they heard gun shots moments later – and police found Steven dead in his car, shot twice in his head.
Prosecutors say 74-year-old Simeon Berkely, who appeared in court Monday, murdered Whitemarsh.
But Berkely told police he believed Whitemarsh had been chasing him and that the shooting was in self-defense.
Berkely was also cleared of charges in a 1991 California traffic related shooting that left a man paralyzed, but he otherwise the suspect has no criminal record.
“It’s just not fair,” said Nicole Pratt, the mother of Steve’s children. “He wouldn’t hurt anybody. He didn’t deserve this.”
Pratt says her family’s lives have turned upside down by the incident.
“It’s the nightmare we can’t wake up from,” she said.
Steven’s kids, aged seven, eight and thirteen, are now left without a father – and a family stricken by grief and financial worry.
Berkely is being held in jail on $750,000 bail and has been charged with second degree murder.
Steven’s family says what started on Glenwood Avenue should never have escalated to this degree.
“You don’t do that,” said Matthew.