Target practice turns into killing over alleged molestation

A 24-year-old man is in custody after being suspected of murdering a homeless Bremerton man near Tahuya who was accused of child molestation.

The victim was found dead Jan. 4 by a hiker near Lake Christine. Gunshot wounds were discovered on his chest and head. He was identified as 27-year-old Alejandro Rodriguez.

Detectives spoke with two women who knew the victim, one being Rodriguez’s girlfriend. They said they had traveled to Belfair with Rodriguez and the suspect, Jacob Elijah Joe Ulalika. Also traveling there was the mother and grandmother of a 3-year-old girl they allege was being sexually assaulted by Rodriguez.

Court documents say the group drove to Belfair with Rodriguez assuming the trip was for target practice. One of the women was left in Belfair after backing out. When they arrived in the woods, a physical altercation broke out, and Rodriguez was shot. The group left without the victim and then picked up the other woman.

Court records show a third-degree assault charge from last April involving Rodriguez, his girlfriend and the 3-year-old’s mother at a Bremerton residence.

A warrant for Ulalika was posted by both the Mason and Kitsap County Sheriff Offices Jan. 6. The warrant specified Ulalika’s last known residence in Bremerton, but also said he was known to “couch surf” around the county.

He was arrested and booked into the Mason County Jail. The three women also are in custody.