First-degree murder charges filed against Seattle-area man in shooting death of Thomas Pfaeffle
By DENNIS BOX
Covington Reporter Editor
July 23, 2009 · 9:51 PM
The Okanogan County Prosecuting Attorney Karl Sloan filed murder charges in the county Superior Court against Kino Michael Gomez for the shooting death of Black Diamond resident Thomas Pfaeffle.
The shooting occurred at 10:41 July 17 at the Blue Spruce Motel in Twisp, Wash.
In the charging documents, the prosecutor filed two counts of murder. The first count charged the 57-year-old Gomez with first-degree murder – extreme indifference. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment and/or a $50,000 fine and the minimum penalty is 20 years in prison.
The second count, described in the document as "... in the alternative" was second-degree murder – intentional murder.
The third count charged reckless endangerment toward the man in the adjacent motel room where one bullet went through the wall.
The fourth count is reckless endangerment toward Pfaeffle's wife, who was with him when he was shot.
Pfaeffle, 49, was a sound engineer who worked for numerous bands including Nirvana, Queensryche, Aerosmith and the Black Crowes. He owned and operated a recording studio, The Tank, in the Black Diamond area. He was also an instructor at the Art Institute of Seattle
Gomez is an award-winning engineer for the city of Seattle.
In the charging document the prosecutor wrote the state was filing first-degree murder charges because, "... the probable cause exists that the defendant committed the crime alleged in count one based on the defendant's conduct of firing multiple gun shots in a motel where several people were present and which created a grave risk of death to those persons, and did cause the death of Thomas Pfaeffle.
According to the police report, Pfaeffle was shot "at least once in the torso (believed to be by a .40 caliber Glock 27 handgun)" by Gomez at 10:41 p.m.
Pfaeffle collapsed in the parking lot and died at Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak at 12:36 a.m. July 18.
The initial investigation indicated Pfaeffle may have been accidentally attempting to enter the wrong room. Gomez was asleep in room No. 7.
Pfaeffle and wife had just checked into room No. 8.
Pfaeffle apparently attempted to enter Room No. 7. The police report stated Gomez was asleep on the bed, "wearing his belly band holster (later recovered from person) with his two Glock 27 handguns on him while he slept.
"He had awoken to the sound of someone breaking into his room, he was unsure of the time.
"He had seen the door open, and a 'full silhouette' of a subject breaking into his room.
"He had responded 'like it was automatic' and fired at the subject breaking into the room...."
The reported also noted there was a "Rock River AR-15 (assault rifle) in the room that he had brought with as a part of a planned trip to go coyote shooting."
The police reported stated there were "two bullet holes in the door/door frame (one above the other) that appear to have entered the door at an acute angle."
A third round was fired and entered Room No. 6, damaging a mirror and lamp. The man in the room was not injured.
Roger Harnack, editor and publisher of The Chronicle located in Omak, attended the bail hearing Monday for Gomez.
Harnack wrote that defense attorney Michael Hass called the incident a "seriously horrible" accident. Hass stated in court Gomez was in a deep sleep when Pfaeffle accidentally tried to enter the room.
Judge David Edwards set bail at $100,000.Contact Covington Reporter Editor Dennis Box at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-425-432-1209 (ext 5050).