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Samoan family grieving after shooting death of beloved brother

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A Washington State Samoan family is grieving after what appears to be a senseless, unprovoked shooting took the life of one of their beloved family members. 

The victim was identified as Ronald Taufaasee, a 26-year-old Tumwater, Washington man who along with his brother went to a WinCo grocery store in Olympia and Ronald stayed in the car while his brother Benjamin went in to do the shopping.

Multiple news outlets in the area reported that according to the Thurston County Sheriff's Office, a man called 911 from the parking lot of the WinCo in the 7500 block of Martin Way East in Olympia around 10:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, reporting he found his brother dead with multiple gunshot wounds inside the car.

About 45 minutes later, after deputies put out a bulletin to locate the suspect, a Lacey Police Department officer found the man walking on Martin Way East and arrested him without incident.

Deputies said a search warrant for the suspect's backpack was obtained and a 9mm pistol and ammunition were found inside. It doesn't appear the victim and suspect were connected in any way, deputies said.

Surveillance footage showed the suspect — who charging documents identified as John Nguyen, 23, of Olympia — in the WinCo parking lot at the time of the shooting, according to Thurston County deputies.

In an email to Samoa News Ronald’s sister Anna Petelo Moetala sent links to statements she and her brother Benjamin made when they addressed the judge at the preliminary hearing for the accused last week Monday.

“It’s not fair that we get to see him in court enjoying another day and we haven’t seen Ronald since Saturday,” said Ronald's sister, Anna Petelo Moetala. “I want justice.”

“I want a life sentence because I can’t get him back,” Benjamin Taufaasee added.

On her Facebook page Anna has posted a memorial to her brother with photos, video and this poignant farewell, “Ronald, you were the one that could make both cry the hardest and laugh the loudest all within the matter of minutes. The only difference now is I won’t be able to laugh with you for the rest of my life. I hope where you’re at is as heavenly as the sky and ‘If TEARS could build a stairway and MEMORIES a lane, I would walk right up to HEAVEN and bring you home again’.”

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help Taufaasee's family with funeral expenses.