t

Kent teen charged with murder of teen during gun exchange

Two Renton teens also charged in September shooting in Kirkland

A Kent teen and two Renton teens were charged by King County prosecutors with first-degree murder for allegedly killing an 18-year-old man in September at Kirkland’s Houghton Beach Park during an apparent gun sale.

Calvin S. Vao, 17, of Kent, is scheduled to be arraigned March 3 at the King County Courthouse in Seattle. Chrisean Kaufman, 18, and Joshua Hawthorne, 17, both of Renton, also face first-degree murder charges. All three remained in custody Feb. 22, with Kaufman in the county jail and Vao and Hawthorne in juvenile detention. Bail is set at $2 million for each of them. Both minors are being charged as adults.

“The three acted in concert to rob victim Cyrus Mason of his AM-15 (Anderson Manufacturing) assault rifle, shot him multiple times on the swim dock of a popular public park and killed him in the process,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Terence Carlstrom in charging documents filed Feb. 17.

Hawthorne reportedly set up the deal on Sept. 16. The gun Vao brought to exchange fired at least four of the eight recorded shots. Kaufman ended up with the stolen AM-15, which has not been recovered.

About an hour and a half after the killing of Mason, Vao filmed a video of himself in the backseat of Kaufman’s car posing with the stolen AM-15 and flashing hand signs in the camera, according to charging papers. Two days later, Vao was soliciting Kaufman to commit an additional robbery to obtain two handguns. More than two months later, he was still in possession of the .22 Ruger used to kill Mason and had photographs on his phone of him posing with the Ruger, a revolver and a hand grenade.

Vao has prior juvenile misdemeanor convictions for second-degree vehicle prowl, fourth-degree assault, third-degree malicious mischief and attempted unlawful possession of a firearm, all in 2020.

Kirkland Police responded at about 8:21 p.m. on Sept. 16 to multiple 911 calls about a shooting at the Houghton Beach Park dock in the 5900 block of Lake Washington Boulevard. Officers found Mason with multiple gunshot wounds. Paramedics transported Mason to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he died a short time later.

Two juvenile witnesses told police that they had accompanied Mason to the park to perform a firearm transaction, trading an AM-15 assault rifle for a pistol and $500 cash. The transaction was set up on Snapchat. Mason carried the rifle in an ukulele case.

Detectives tracked down video surveillance with audio that captured a sedan dropping off two suspects five minutes prior to the shooting. The sedan parked and the sound of eight gunshots could be heard prior to two suspects getting in the vehicle which fled on Lakeview Drive NE.

Police used tips and interviews to find Hawthorne and connect him with the killing. Surveillance and vehicle registration records showed Kaufman as the driver of the sedan, a 2008 BMW 535. Detectives found a ukulele case in the car and $500 in fake bills.

Detectives eventually tracked Vao to an apartment at The Platform Apartments, across from Kent Station, where he lived with his parents. They used a search warrant and found in the apartment ammunition that matched the fire casings found on the Kirkland dock where Mason was killed. They also found a .22 Ruger handgun and later matched bullets from the handgun with a bullet found in Mason’s body and four of the fired casings recovered.

Police used social media communications, cellphone records, videos and witness interviews to tie the three teens to the shooting. The three reportedly went through the Jack in the Box drive-thru in Kent about 90 minutes after the shooting and just prior to dropping off Vao near Kent Station.

Vao told detectives he didn’t know Hawthorne or Kaufman and then said he didn’t want to talk to them anymore, so detectives ended the interview.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Kirkland City Councilmember Neal Black.
Neal Black seeks re-election to Kirkland City Council

Councilmember Neal Black announced that he is running for re-election to the… Continue reading

Ryan James Fine Arts Kirkland Urban (photo credit: Ryan James Fine Arts)
Ryan James Fine Arts to showcase Milan Heger’s “Duality,” series

“Duality,” showcase will include a chance to meet the artist on April 18.

Cedar Creek culvert (photo credit: Stantec)
City of Kirkland, private partners team up to upgrade Cedar Creek culvert

Culvert under 100th Avenue Northeast intended to reduce flooding and provide fish habitat.

Photo via Pexels
King County residents needed for first respiratory study using Apple watches

UW study to help find if devices can detect early warning signs of acute respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 and flu.

Photo courtesy of Johnson and Johnson (jnj.com)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine halted in Washington over side effect

Following federal guidance, Washington health care providers are temporarily pausing Johnson &… Continue reading

File Photo
High court ruling spurs effort to retool state’s drug laws

Meanwhile, the Blake decision has gotten people out jail, charges dismissed and possibly clemency for some.

Public Health – Seattle & King County staff administering COVID-19 vaccine to a local emergency responder. COURTESY PHOTO, Public Health-Seattle & King County
Starting April 15, everyone 16 and older is eligible for a vaccine

Gov. Inslee said an expected increase in vaccine supply enables the state to open eligibility.

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Phase Finder for vaccine eligibility to be eliminated March 31

Eligibility verification via Phase Finder no longer required for appointments, vaccinations beginning this week.

Courtesy photo
Issaquah School District settles negligence lawsuit for $4.25 million

The lawsuit alleged the district covered for a now-convicted child molester while he was a teacher.

Kindergarten and first grade students line up outside of Panther Lake Elementary in Federal Way on March 15. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
Inslee: K-12 schools can reduce COVID social distancing

The governor reduced social distancing requirements for K-12 classrooms from 6 feet to 3 feet.

Sound Publishing file photo
More people can get the COVID vaccine on March 31, but supply is still limited

The number of people eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is set… Continue reading