Patrick Byrne, 26, pled not guilty Friday in Pierce County Washington to killing 41-year-old Denise Smith in the early hours of July 18
Pierce County prosecutors charged Patrick Philip Byrne with two counts of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree kidnapping
Byrne, an Army ranger, was drunk when he allegedly, punched and choked to death the female security guard in a savage 10-minute assault that left her so badly beaten her body was unrecognizable
Smith had been on duty at an office building in downtown Tacoma, Washington, at around 1am on July 18, when she was brutalized and killed allegedly, by Patrick Byrne
The suspect punched and choked Smith after she asked him to leave office in Tacoma, Wash., prosecutors said
He is being held at Pierce County Jail after a judge set bail at $2 million
Army issued statement Friday calling the alleged assault ‘absolutely appalling’
An 26-year-old Army ranger has been charged with murder after allegedly beating and choking to death a security guard during a brutal ten-minute assault after she tried to stop him entering a building.
Patrick Byrne entered a not guilty plea Friday to killing 41-year-old Denise Smith while she was on duty at an office building in downtown Tacoma, Washington, at around 1am on July 18.
The Pierce County prosecutor’s office filed first-degree murder charges Friday against Patrick Philip Byrne, an Army Ranger stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, for allegedly murdering a Tacoma security guard during an attack caught on surveillance video.
Smith, a recent hire, was so badly beaten she was unrecognizable when it was discovered at 6am, according to the court documents.
Pierce County prosecutors charged him with two counts of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree kidnapping.
According to charging papers Byrne was out drinking with friends in downtown Tacoma and got into a bar fight where he was punched in the face.
He then left the bar and walked in the direction of the building. Authorities say Byrne approached the front door and the security guard motioned for him to leave.
When he didn’t, the security guard opened the front door and Byrne tried to barge past her. ‘During that time the defendant repeatedly punched the victim with his fists, and he grabbed her by her braid and ‘dragged her around like a rag doll,’ prosecutors wrote in charging papers.
The ranger also seized Smith’s keys and used them to stab her face before choking her until she went limp after an attack lasting eight to 10 minutes, it is alleged.
After abandoning her body, Byrne smashed a window in a nearby conference room and began throwing furniture around, reported KING-TV, citing court documents.
He then jumped 14 feet from a landing and was seen lying on concrete.
On July 18, the Tacoma Police Department responded to a building downtown where a security guard, identified as 41-year-old Denise Smith, was found lying on the floor bleeding and not breathing. Detectives said that it was clear she had been beaten severely, and she was declared dead at the scene.
Earlier that morning there was a 911 call that came from outside the building from a man calling for help. That man was later identified as the suspect. A bloodied Patrick Byrne was seen by a passer-by crying for help and was taken to hospital after they made a 911 call.
Responding officers found Smith, who had only been on the job two day around 6 am, so badly beaten she was unrecognizable, investigators said in court documents.
Detectives learned Byrne was taken to the hospital saying that he was stabbed and had been sexually assaulted. However, no stab wounds were found on him at the hospital and he did not allow hospital staff to conduct a sexual assault examination.
Officers were told that Byrne had a head injury when he arrived at the hospital and possible bleeding on the brain and that staff believed he may have been intoxicated.
Officers learned that Byrne had been drinking the night before Smith’s body was discovered in downtown Tacoma when he was involved in an altercation. Byrne ran from the location after being punched in the face, witnesses told police, eventually making his way on foot to the building where Smith was a security guard.
When detectives reviewed the surveillance video at the scene of the murder they saw Byrne enter the area of the building and go up to the entrance after a brief interaction with a transient woman outside. He stood by the entrance and barged into the building when Smith opened the doors to likely tell him to leave, according to the probable cause documents.
Over the course of about 10 minutes, the surveillance video appeared to show Byrne beat Smith with his fists, stab her in the face with keys, drag her across the floor by her hair and choke her until her body went limp.
He is also seen keeping Smith from escaping multiple times, detectives said.
After Smith’s body was seen going limp on the ground, detectives said that Byrne began throwing furniture around the building’s lobby and tried to break a window in one of the building’s conference rooms before exiting the building.
Byrne is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, according to an Army Special Operations Command news release.
He entered the Army as an infantryman in March 2019. After completing the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program in July 2020, Byrne was assigned to his current battalion.
The U.S. Army issued a statement Friday calling the alleged assault ‘absolutely appalling’.
‘The Tacoma Police Department has the full cooperation of the United States Army Special Operations Command,’ the statement said. ‘Our deepest condolences to the families affected by this tragedy.’
Smith’s family said they were ‘devastated’ at her death and described her as a sweet person who largely kept to herself. Byrne is being held at Pierce County Jail after a judge set bail at $2 million.