Photo by Ty Swenson
King County detectives investigate the shooting death of Jason Saechao at the Seattle Roll Bakery in White Center during the early morning hours of Dec. 28.

Love and theft leads to murder

Dispute over a stolen necklace and love triangle leads to fatal, execution-style shooting at White Center bakery

Prosecutors charged 25-year-old Cu Van Troung with first degree murder on Dec. 30, alleging he went to the Seattle Roll Bakery in White Center on Dec. 28 with premeditated intent to shoot and kill victim Jason Saechao, 24.

The following account is a summary of probable cause documents from King County Sheriff’s Office Detective Robin Cleary:

At first, a fabricated tale of robbery
The call came out just after midnight on Dec. 28 that someone had been shot at the Seattle Roll Bakery on 16th Ave S.W. in White Center and deputies rushed to the scene where they found Saechao shot dead. Four witnesses were inside the bakery when the shooting occurred, although only two remained when deputies arrived.

A male employee of the bakery and female acquaintance of both the victim and Troung (the alleged shooter) remained and initially told deputies an unknown male came in demanding money. When Saechao tried to defend the employee, they said, the robber pulled out a gun and shot him.

Eventually, all four witnesses would recant the robbery story and admit they knew who the shooter was. The reason for the lie, they said, was that Troung threatened to harm anyone who fingered him in the crime.

The truth comes out – bad-mouthing and a necklace lead to murder
Court documents state the female witness who stuck around after the shooting eventually “broke down” and changed her story, telling detectives she knew who the shooter was, a man named “Cu,” later identified by detectives as defendant Cu Van Troung.

She said Saechao had been “bad mouthing” Troung recently and wished to speak with Troung to apologize for his behavior. She called Troung and put him on the phone with Saechao so he could apologize, but a little while later Troung showed up at the bakery and the two men stepped outside to argue.

Next, she said, the argument moved inside and she witnessed Troung shoot Saechao.

The male employee was re-interviewed by detectives and he too changed his story, although the details were different:

The employee said he had been dating the female witness (who “broke down” and changed her story first) while the victim, Saechao, was in jail and a dispute between the two men had recently brewed. The night before, he said, Saechao confronted him about the relationship and took his necklace in retribution. He gave it up, but said his mother was still paying on the necklace and said she would call police if Saechao didn’t give it back. He asked the female witness to speak with Saechao about getting it back.

On the night of the shooting, the employee said he arrived at work around 11:30 p.m. and saw the female witness, along with a friend, were already at the bakery. Saechao showed up next, followed closely by defendant Troung and two associates who stayed in the car.

Ultimately, the employee said the deadly dispute came down to the necklace.

“Give this little homie back his necklace,” the witness alleged Troung said to the victim.

A calculated killing
According to his account, the two men started arguing loudly and Troung allegedly pulled a handgun from his waistband and began shooting Saechao, starting less than 10 feet away with a shot to the leg and ending with a point-blank shot fired into the top of the victim’s head. Two more witnesses later backed the account.

Autopsy results show Saechao was shot four times – once in the groin, once in the left arm at a downward angle, and finally the left cheek and top of the head from close range.

After Troung left the scene in a white BMW, two other witnesses left and told the employee they would call 911 and say it was a robbery.

Tracked down
With suspect description in hand, detectives tracked the defendant down at his sister’s home in Burien. They witnessed the defendant getting into the BMW with his sister and her boyfriend and pulled them over.

Troung was taken to the Burien precinct where he denied being at the bakery that night and said he had only met the victim once. He said he had a sexual relationship with the female witness while the victim was in jail (the bakery employee said the same thing) and had spent time with the female the day before at a casino.

Troung was arrested for investigation of first degree murder.

The defendant’s bail is set at $1 million, and prosecutor’s allege Troung “fired multiple shots into the victim, including close proximity shots to his face and head. After the killing, the defendant threatened eyewitnesses to his crime. He appears to be unemployed and without stable residence. Given the defendant’s violent past and conduct in this matter, he presents a clear danger to the community and the witnesses in this court, and is unlikely to appear for court.”

Troung has three prior convictions for first degree robbery and residential burglary in 2006 and taking a motor vehicle in 2003.

He will be arraigned on Jan. 12 at 8:30 a.m. at the King County Courthouse.

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