The initial criminal allegations that made Kfin Karuo a wanted man — and ultimately led to his death at the hands of law enforcement on Oct. 17 — occurred two weeks prior at a parking lot not far from his home, investigators said on Thursday.
In a release, investigators said Karuo, 28, pulled up to a parked car on Sept. 29, asked if the driver was a police officer, then flashed a handgun and told the driver to leave the area. The incident reportedly occurred at 11320 N.E. 49th St., blocks from the apartment complex where Karuo lived and where he was killed by Clark County Sheriff’s deputies.
A dashboard camera on the unidentified victim’s car recorded the interaction. Investigators released the footage on Thursday, though it did not have audio. A white SUV can be seen pulling into frame at a parking lot before the driver leans out the window. The man in the SUV then flashes what appears to be a gun.
“The suspect in that incident was identified as Kfin Karuo,” Kim Kapp, a Vancouver Police Department spokesperson, wrote in a news release Thursday afternoon.
Eighteen days later, two Clark County sheriff’s deputies reportedly attempted to pull over Karuo near the intersection of Northeast 122nd Avenue and Northeast 49th Street. According to investigators, Karuo reportedly did not stop. The two deputies then hit his vehicle with theirs in an attempt to force Karuo off the road.
Gerald Gray, whose wife is Karuo’s aunt, said the family on Thursday night declined to comment and had not been notified of the latest news.
Investigators said the two deputies involved were David Delin, a deputy with three-and-a-half years of experience, and Forrest Gonzalez, who joined the sheriff’s office three years ago and had spent two years working for the Aberdeen Police Department.
According to Clark County sheriff’s records obtained by OPB, Gonzalez has been reprimanded three times since the summer of 2019, including once for “excessive speed.”
Many details of the encounter remain unclear. The news release doesn’t specify which actions Delin or Gonzales took individually. According to investigators, Karuo at some point aimed a gun and the deputies opened fire. Investigators so far haven’t said if there are any other witnesses or footage.
“Karuo, armed with a handgun, pointed the gun at the deputies, who then fired at him,” Kapp wrote in a statement. “Karuo was located a short distance from his vehicle deceased with a gun in his hand with his finger on the trigger.”
Tire marks had still been visible on the street, leading toward a berm. This week, the scene of the killing had been transformed into a memorial site of red flowers and trinkets. Bullet holes pierced a manufactured home behind the berm.
The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office said Tuesday that Karuo died from a gunshot wound to the torso.
To those close to him, Karuo was a caring community figure. A member of the Chuukese community, extended family told OPB he often referred to cousins, nieces and nephews only as brothers and sisters. The Chuukese people hail from the Chuuk Islands, a part of the Federated States of Micronesia.
On Wednesday, about 100 friends and family members staged a protest at the memorial site on the berm. Some said they were family members who came from out of town. Some were children whom Karuo coached in youth sports. They played music. They waved signs calling for justice and demanding more information from investigators.
Rechealle Rain, Karuo’s girlfriend and mother of his four children, said she felt “lost, hurt, confused.”
“We all came here for him. We know who he really is. He loved his kids,” Rain said. “Why? It’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense. Kfin isn’t the one to do what they said he is doing. He wouldn’t. We all know him. So many people love him.”
Frech Andrew, 21, one of Karuo’s nephews, echoed that many in the community looked up to Karuo. He lamented the close-knit community lost someone and that Karuo’s immediate family is the most impacted.
“What happened that day, early morning, he left not just us but his own kids,” Andrew said. “Who is going to be there for them when he’s not there no more, but us? They need their father.”
According to court records, Karuo was born in Guam in 1993. In 2018, he pled guilty to fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He also spent two weeks in jail in 2014 for fourth-degree domestic assault.
The shooting became the third fatal shooting by Clark County Sheriff’s deputies in a year. A regional drug task force shot and killed 21-year-old Kevin Peterson Jr. during an attempted drug sting on Oct. 29, 2020. Then, a deputy shot and killed 30-year-old Jenoah Donald after a traffic stop turned into a physical confrontation.
All three people killed were people of color. Attorneys representing the families of Peterson and Donald have said they intend to sue Clark County over the killings. Independent prosecutors who reviewed the cases deemed both justified.
Chuck Atkins, the Clark County sheriff, said on Wednesday he felt for Karuo’s family and the deputies involved. He said he was considering how the sheriff’s office could help pay for repairs to the manufactured home that bullets pierced.
Gray, Karuo’s uncle by marriage, criticized the sheriff’s office for what he described as reckless behavior.
“They’re not trained properly to defuse the situation,” Gray said. “They want to shoot first and ask questions later.”