(CBS) LAKEWOOD, Wash. - Tevin Geike, a 20-year-old U.S. soldier, was celebrating the end of his military service when he was stabbed to death on a street in Lakewood, Wash. early Saturday in what is being investigated as a possible hate crime, reports CBS affiliate KIRO.
Geike was walking along the street with two other soldiers, Matthew Barnes and Brian Johnson, at around 2:30 a.m. when Johnson says a car passed by and taunted them.
"One of the guys in the back seat yells something like white and cracker," Johnson said, reports the station.
Barnes allegedly yelled back, "So this is how we treat combat veterans now?"
The car reportedly came back and five black men stepped out and demanded to know what Barnes had said. Barnes repeated himself, reports the station.
Four of the five men then backed off, but the fifth allegedly attacked Geike and stabbed him.
Barnes struggled to stop his friend's bleeding and called 911 while Johnson ran to tell other friends what had happened. But, by the time he got back, Gieke was dead, reports the station.
"We weren't out looking for trouble and trouble found us anyway," Johnson said, reports the station.
Police are investigating the killing as a possible hate crime. Authorities said they were searching for the five men involved in the incident. They are described as being in their mid 20s.
KIRO reports three men booked into the Pierce County Jail early Monday on investigation of murder charges could be tied to the case. The connection has not been confirmed.