2nd man charged with killing National Guard officer bragged about crime, records show

A man is accused of being a willing accomplice in a drive-by shooting that led to the murder of a National Guard officer in Fife last year.

Jedidiah Taimi, 18, has been charged with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, drive-by shooting, unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, court records show. He is accused of partaking in the killing of 23-year-old Rudolph King III on Sept. 12, 2023.

Andrew Lautogia Fonoti, 29, was arrested on Dec. 21, 2023, outside a Kent hotel during a police standoff. He faces the same charges and is accused of being the shooter. He pleaded not guilty and is being held at Pierce County Jail on a $1.5 million bail, a previous News Tribune story reported.

Taimi was arrested in October for previous crimes. Prosecutors charged him this week with King’s homicide, records show.

A plea of not guilty was entered on Taimi’s behalf at Wednesday’s arraignment. Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner Barbara McInvaille set his bail at $1.5 million, records show.

Charging details

King’s death initially was reported as a car crash near the intersection of 70th Avenue East and 20th Street East. At 9:32 p.m., Fife police were dispatched and found King with a single gunshot wound to the head. King was an active-duty National Guard officer, according to charging documents .

King was reportedly on the phone with his parents when the shooting occurred. His parents reported to police that they did not hear any yelling or other indicators that would have shown that King was involved in an altercation. King’s mother said the phone just “went dead,” and, when she called back, there was no response, prosecutors wrote.

King was driving a black Hyundai sedan. Witnesses said his car was traveling at high speed before the crash.

Through video footage, detectives noted that King likely was shot near the 6600 block of 20th street, and his car continued driving since his foot was on the gas pedal. Detectives also saw a 2013 Toyota Camry nearby, and it was later determined to be the suspect vehicle. The Camry was reportedly stolen, and it was recovered a few days later, prosecutors wrote.

The Toyota Camry had bullet holes in the windshield. Two live .22-caliber rounds and one live 9 mm round were found in the driver’s door pocket. There was also graffiti written on the steering wheel with the name “Drewsky” on it. It was later discovered that that is one of Fonoti’s nicknames, prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors wrote it was determined that Fonoti was a passenger in the stolen Camry, along with Taimi and a 14-year-old boy.

A witness contacted detectives and said someone told them that Taimi was bragging about being the one to shoot King. A different witness that detectives spoke to also confirmed that Taimi was bragging about being the shooter, prosecutors wrote.

A witness spoke to Fonoti a day after the murder asking if Taimi had been the one to shoot King. Fonoti then told the witness he allegedly was the one to shoot King. He also said that Taimi was with him when the murder happened, documents show.

Detectives later confirmed a palm print on the Toyota to be Taimi’s.

Another witness told detectives that when they heard that King died, they confronted Taimi and Fonoti about it. They both allegedly told the witness what happened and that Fonoti shot King, prosecutors wrote.

After Fonoti’s arrest in December, he told detectives he was the “trigger man.” He said that when they were in the car right before the shooting, Taimi had a red-colored gun and pointed it towards King’s vehicle. Taimi allegedly stated he was going to shoot King, and Fonoti took the gun because he was afraid of being accidentally shot, prosecutors wrote. They briefly argued on who would shoot before Fonoti allegedly fired two rounds at the vehicle.

Taimi took the gun back. Detectives noted that in jail conversation after he was arrested in October, Taimi mentioned owning a red-colored gun. A gun used in the crime has not been recovered, documents show.

Taimi currently has an outstanding Department of Corrections warrant for escaping from community custody. He has prior felony convictions from March 2023 for theft of a motor vehicle and attempting to elude police, records show.