SEATTLE — He was a child prodigy, taking computer classes at Seattle Pacific University at the age of 13 and finishing in the top third of the Junior Olympics in fencing.
But Dinh Bowman was earning a different kind of recognition over the weekend, appearing before a judge Saturday in Seattle on suspicion of killing a 42-year-old local man in what detectives believe was a case of road rage.
Bowman, now 29, was arrested after an anonymous tipster suggested he was the man driving a silver BMW convertible who opened fire with deadly precision on a fellow motorist Aug. 31 in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood, inflicting fatal wounds before driving off.
The victim, Yancy Noll, a popular supermarket wine steward, was stopped at a red light in a line of traffic when the silver BMW pulled alongside his car, came to a halt, and its driver fired several shots, three of which struck Noll in the head.
The BMW left tire-tread marks behind as it peeled off, along with shards of broken glass, suggesting the driver had fired through a closed passenger window. In a press release, detectives said it appeared that road rage had motivated the shooting, though they didn’t specify what had preceded the confrontation.
The tipster said Bowman resembled the composite sketch put out as a result of witness interviews. She said he lived very near the shooting scene, drove a silver BMW, owned firearms — and had a “volatile personality,” according to an affidavit filed with the court.
Police found Bowman’s BMW in the garage, its passenger window and tires having been newly replaced. Shards of glass were found inside the car and also in the garage, the affidavit said.
Bowman was taken into custody, but just how accomplished a marksman he is became apparent later over the weekend, in a video that depicts him firing a weapon with remarkable accuracy at a shooting range in Puyallup, Wash.
“One-handed, firing at a series of targets, hitting every one of them square on … both right-handed and left-handed,” W. Scott O’Toole of the King County prosecutor’s office told KOMO television.
Bowman’s first brush with notoriety came in a 1996 story in the Seattle Times, which told of how he first started using computers at the age of 3 and enrolled at Seattle Pacific University when his mother, a Vietnamese refugee married to a Boeing engineer, couldn’t provide him with the knowledge he craved during home schooling.
“Dinh was crying,” she told the newspaper. “He couldn’t wait. He couldn’t stand not learning.”
Bowman went on to earn a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington and had been employed with a San Francisco company at an office in Seattle, though his life hasn’t been trouble-free: He was tried but acquitted on charges of burglary and first-degree theft in 2006.
Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County prosecutor’s office, said a decision would be made by Tuesday on what charges, if any, will be filed in the shooting case.