Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Toppenish- two injured in shooting

TOPPENISH -- Two juvenile males were injured in a shooting Monday night in what police are calling a gang-related incident. Both victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Toppenish police said they responded to a report of a gunshot victim at Toppenish Community Hospital about 8:45 p.m.

One of the victims told police he was driving his vehicle out of a parking lot when someone shot at him from behind, striking him in the back. A passenger in the front seat was hit by flying glass and metal from the door. The driver was treated and released by the hospital a short time after he arrived.

Police described the suspect as a slender male of average height with a shaved head, wearing black clothing. He reportedly fled in a blue El Camino-type vehicle. The weapon appears to have been a rifle.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Toppenish police at 509-865-4355.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Toppenish- Brother and Sister arrested for homicides

YAKIMA -- A brother and sister have been charged with aggravated first-degree murder in what authorities describe as a gang-related double shooting in Toppenish earlier this month.

Isabel Sanchez, 21, of Wapato is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in Yakima County Superior Court. Her brother, 23-year-old Anthony Sanchez of Buena, made his arraignment appearance on Monday.

Anthony Sanchez remains at the Yakima County jail on $5 million bail; his sister is being held on $1 million bail.

Estevan Silva Jr., 17, and Israel Diaz, 20, were killed in the March 5 shooting. Two others with them were not hit.

Toppenish police say Isabel Sanchez was driving when she and her brother spotted the group near Buena Way and drove to intercept them as they were taking a shortcut home. Anthony Sanchez opened fire on them after the sides exchanged gang-related comments, police said.

If convicted, the siblings could face the death penalty or life in prison. Prosecutors typically are required to decide on whether to seek capital punishment within 30 days.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Toppenish- Gang shooting leaves two dead

Gang shooting leaves two dead in Toppenish

Philip Ferolito
Yakima Herald-Republic

TOPPENISH, Wash. -- Yet another shooting has claimed the lives of two young victims as police scramble to put a lid on a growing gang problem in Yakima County.

Thursday night's shooting deaths of 17-year-old Estevan Silva Jr. and 20-year-old Israel Diac push to eight the number of homicides in the Yakima County so far this year. About half the deaths are gang-related.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the Valley were working together Friday to see if the shooting is connected to other recent gang shootings, including one earlier Thursday in Yakima, said Toppenish Police Capt. Curt Ruggles.

Silva and Diac were with two others near the intersection of Washington Avenue and Buena Way about 10:20 p.m. Thursday when they were gunned down by a rival gang member, police said.

A dark car with two people inside pulled up, gang affiliations were announced, and a passenger of the car opened fire, striking the two, police said.

The vehicle then fled west on nearby Track Road at a high rate of speed, police said.

Diac, who was shot in the torso, died at the scene. Silva was rushed to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. He died about 4:15 a.m. Friday, Yakima County Coroner Maury Rice said.

Monday autopsies will be conducted for both victims, he said.

Roughly five hours before the two were shot, a 28-year-old Yakima man was struck in the leg by a bullet when rival gang members shot at his Ford Expedition outside a convenience store at 16th Avenue and Tieton Drive in Yakima.

Now, Valley police are trying find out whether there's a connection.

"We're trying to help each other out," Ruggles said Friday.

Police are reviewing surveillance tapes from cameras at nearby buildings in hopes of identifying the suspects in the Toppenish shooting, Ruggles said.

The deaths come 11 days after a gang shooting left an innocent 16-year-old hospitalized in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle

Jose Salinas was shot in the face on Feb. 22 after peering out a bedroom window after hearing shots fired outside his home at the corner of Horschel and Hoffer roads west of Wapato.

The bullet broke his jaw and traveled down his spine and lodged near his kidneys, family said. He's now breathing with help from a ventilator.

Of the 18 homicides reported in Yakima County last year, police say half the deaths were teenagers.

Gangs are becoming more organized in the Valley, authorities have said, and police have formed a multiagency task force to tackle the problem.