Rose L. Thayer
Stars and Stripes
An Army Ranger assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., was arraigned Friday on charges of murder and kidnapping for beating to death a female security guard at a Tacoma office building, according to court documents and Army officials.
Spc. Patrick P. Byrne, 26, who is assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, was arrested Monday by the Tacoma Police Department. He was charged for beating and choking to death an on-duty security guard at an office building in the 900 block of A Street in the early morning hours of Sunday, according to an affidavit filed with Pierce County Superior Court.
Another guard arrived at about 6 a.m. Sunday for a shift and called police to report that he found his female coworker unresponsive with clear signs of trauma, according to court documents. The woman had been beaten so severely she was unrecognizable. The attack was recorded by security cameras in the lobby of the building where the beating took place. The recording of the incident helped police identify Byrne as a suspect.
Described by police as 6 feet tall, Byrne was at the door of the building, when the 42-year-old, 5-foot-tall guard opened the door, likely to ask him to leave, according to the court documents. He barged past her. As the guard grabbed Byrne’s shirt to stop him, he took her to the ground and began to assault her for about 10 minutes.
He hit the woman with his fists, grabbed her braided hair, and “dragged her around like a rag doll,” then used her own set of keys to stab her in the face. He then began to choke her, according to court documents.
After leaving her body, Byrne entered a conference room and smashed out a window with a chair, according to the documents. He began to throw things, including furniture, and then left the building.
Instead of using the stairs, he then jumped or fell about 14 feet from a landing where a separate security camera showed him lying below on a concrete floor, possibly unconscious. Eventually, he got up and left.
Byrne was picked up by fire department personnel at about 2 a.m. Sunday, after receiving a call about a bloody man yelling for help in the area of the killing. He was taken to the hospital, where he told a witness that he had been stabbed, but no stab wounds were found on him.
Medical personnel told police that Byrne had a head injury and was possibly drunk, according to the documents. Byrne reported to a nurse that he’d been sexually assaulted, but he declined to explain further and did not allow doctors to perform a related exam.
U.S. Army Ranger Patrick Byrne, 26, is charged with murdering Denise Smith, 42, as she worked as a security guard at a Tacoma office building. Bail set at $2M. 5pm @KIRO7Seattle pic.twitter.com/CuQbe9Dw9Y— Alison Grande (@AlisonKIRO7) July 23, 2021
Prior to the attack, Byrne had been drinking with friends in downtown Tacoma, according to court documents. Witnesses told police that Byrne was punched in the face during a bar fight and then ran in the direction of the office building where the killing occurred.
When interviewed by police at the hospital, Byrne denied recollection of the attack, according to court documents. He told police that he remembered drinking at a bar, then blacking out. He woke up and found himself in the hospital.
Byrne was charged with two counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of burglary, all in the first-degree, according to online court records. His next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 16.
Byrne entered the Army in March 2019 as an infantryman. He completed the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program in July 2020 and was subsequently assigned to Lewis-McChord, according to U.S. Special Operations Command. Byrne has no operational deployments.
“U.S. Army Special Operations Command, as well as the leadership at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are cooperating fully with the local law enforcement agencies in the ongoing investigation,” base officials said in a statement.
Byrne was booked into Pierce County Jail on Thursday with bond set at $2 million.
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