Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wapato man stabbed 16 times

WAPATO — A 24-year-old Wapato man is in intensive care at a local hospital after being stabbed 16 times Wednesday night, police said.

Alberto Sanchez was standing outside an apartment in the 400 block of West Sixth Street about 11:50 p.m. when he was repeatedly stabbed, said police Chief Richard Sanchez, who is not related.

"We don't know if there was a party going on there or what," according to Chief Sanchez, who said the man was rushed to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

Police are still investigating but have yet to identify any suspects.

"No one has provided any information about it," the police chief said. "I'm sure people in the area know who (the suspects) are, but they haven't told us."

There was no sign of robbery, and it's not clear whether the stabbing was gang-related, he said.

Yakima homicide suspect arrested in Tacoma

YAKIMA, Wash. — The suspect in a Yakima man’s shooting death earlier this month was arrested late Wednesday near Tacoma, authorities say.

Alexander Quintana, 29, was taken into custody by Tacoma police outside his brother’s house, according to a news release from the Yakima Police Department.

Quintana faces a second-degree murder charge in the Dec. 12 death of William Kreder, 21.

Police said witnesses told them that Kreder had gone to a home in the 1100 block of Baker Street to buy drugs shortly before midnight. A witness told police that Quintana shot Kreder in the head.

Quintana is expected to be returned soon to the Yakima County jail before making his first court appearance in the case.

-- Mark Morey

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ephrata man murdered

EPHRATA — Sage Munro, 35, Ephrata, was found shot to death at his E Street Northeast home Tuesday morning.

A neighbor called police at 6:40 a.m. to report gunfire.

“We got a call of shots fired and a guy stumbling into the house,” said Ephrata police Chief Mike Warren. “We’re treating it as a homicide.”

Officers arrived to find Munro dead in the living room of his home.

Officers from various agencies, comprising the Columbia Basin Investigation Team, are assisting Ephrata police in investigation. Detectives from the Moses Lake Police Department and Grant County Sheriff’s Office are part of the team.

Warren declined to provide further details until later in the investigation, but said they have a few leads.

“We’re going where the evidence leads us,” said Warren.

Anyone with information related to the shooting is asked to contact Ephrata police at 509-754-2491.

Machete-robbers arrested

SELAH -- Three suspected robbers didn't stand much of a chance against a mass of man power and artillery in Selah. A trio of law enforcement agencies surrounded a house on Wenas Avenue, knowing the bandits were inside.

The commotion in Selah started here in Union gap when two machete-wielding robbers tried to knock over Coco's. What the crooks didn't plan on was the clerk pulling a gun.

"It's always dangerous anytime you have somebody that's got a weapon. But evidently he felt he was in a good enough position," explained Union Gap Police Sgt. Larry Worden.

The clerk held one of the suspects until police arrived. And it didn't take long to find the rest of the suspect thieves and their hide out.

Yakima Police Capt. Jeff Schneider was on the scene. "One male was arrested there. They obtained information that others involved in the robbery and possibly involved in the other robberies that have been occurring in the Yakima area were at this house."

With a string of unresolved knife-point robberies in Yakima, police think they've solved at least a few of these cases.

"It looks like the info we have is that all four of them have been involved in one way or another in a string of robberies that have been going on," Capt. Schneider said.

Whether or not these crooks have been sticking up stores all over Yakima remains to be seen. Right now though, they will face charges for this latest knife-point knock-over at the very least.

"The three subjects are being held pending formal charges. They're still under investigation, but we expect formal charges for our Union Gap case shortly," said Sgt. Worden.

Even though this string of robberies never got the chance to escalate into violence, this morning's show of force is a clear indication cops weren't sure if someone in the house might try to use a two-foot machete on one of them.

Outlook cop shooter's relatives now wanted

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Two relatives of an Outlook teenager accused of shooting at Yakima County sheriff's deputies face cockfighting charges.

Authorities say the pair's roosters and fighting gear were discovered when state gambling investigators searched the teenager's home after the July shooting, which wounded Deputy Bobby Miranda and missed Deputy Chris Stearley.

The felony animal-fighting charge was filed last week in Yakima County Superior Court against Jerry Almaguer, 46, and his brother, Sylvester Almaguer, 56.

Jerry Almaguer is the father of Jacob Almaguer, the 16-year-old accused of shooting at the deputies. Investigators said witnesses reported that Jacob Almaguer made statements about wanting to gain gang status "by flaming these two pigs."

His parents have said he was at their Outlook home when the shooting happened. He awaits trial on two counts of attempted murder.

Warrants for the two men's arrest remained active as of Tuesday, according to the Yakima County Sheriff's Office.

The state Gambling Commission often handles cockfighting investigations.

According to a commission special agent's report, the August search found 10 roosters in a pen on the property. Three of them had modifications common to fighting birds, including removal of their combs and wattles, the special agent wrote. If not trimmed, heavy bleeding from those areas can lead to death during a fight. The birds' spurs were also removed, another change to more easily attach blades for fights.

The three modified birds were euthanized on scene, gambling authorities said earlier.

The search also uncovered a bag with spur blades and other fighting gear, according to the report.

After his son's arrest, Jerry Almaguer told the Yakima Herald-Republic that his son raised the roosters for cockfighting.

Investigators received information that all three were involved, according to the special agent's report.

Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hagarty said his office had considered charging Jacob Almaguer in connection with the cockfighting, but chose for now to focus on the shooting case.

Both deputies returned to duty soon after the incident.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Prosser- armed robbery, 2 suspects arrested

PROSSER, Wash. — Two men were arrested after an armed robbery at a Prosser auction company Monday afternoon, and police are looking for a third suspect.

The incident was reported about 4 p.m. at C & L Auction, 13081 W. Shelby Road, about two miles north of Prosser.

Benton County sheriff’s officials say three suspects arrived at the business, and one of them entered and demanded money while showing a gun. The trio left in a vehicle with several hundred dollars.

Deputies soon located the vehicle, traveling north on Gap Road near Kingtull Road, and tried to stop it. But a 40-year-old occupant fled into an orchard as the vehicle continued.

A police dog tracked the running suspect, who traveled more than a mile before unsuccessfully trying to hide, authorities said.

The car was later found abandoned on Wilgus Road.

A 22-year-old suspect was later located in Pasco, officials said.

Both of the arrested men were jailed on suspicion of first-degree robbery.

— Mark Morey

Monday, December 28, 2009

Toppenish- two more drive by shootings

TOPPENISH, Wash. — Police investigated two drive-by shootings in Toppenish on Sunday.

No injuries were reported in either incident.

The first was reported about 5 a.m. in the 200 block of North Elm Street.

The victims awoke to hear about four gunshots, police said. Several hours later, one of the victims found shell casings in the street.

Police said they had no information on possible suspects.

The second shooting was reported at 10:30 p.m. in the 200 block of Franklin Avenue.

Several rounds struck a house before a dark-colored vehicle was seen leaving the area, according to a news release.

No suspect information was available.

Any tips may be reported to police at 509-865-4355.

— Mark Morey

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas in Outlook- man stabbed, cop assaulted, shots fired

Stabbing reported in Outlook Christmas morning

A woman reported to the Yakima County Sheriff's office that her son was stabbed just before 1 a.m. on Christmas day, this past Friday.

The stabbing was reported at 50 S. Outlook Road, where the woman said a man wearing a gray sweatshirt and red pants stabbed her son and fled on foot across the freeway.

The victim was stabbed in the hand and refused medical attention, according to Sheriff's deputies. The case is active and under investigation.

In an unrelated incident 30 minutes later at 10 S. First Ave. in Outlook, deputies arrested Elias Mendoza, 18, on charges of assaulting a police officer. The Sheriff's office noted that Mendoza allegedly spit in a deputy's face and became aggressive.

Also Christmas Day, deputies fielded a complaint from the 1800 block of Allen Road regarding noise from a loud party. That same day, a dog bite was reported at 1:21 p.m. in the 500 block of Fern Street in Mabton.

Near Sunnyside on Christmas day, deputies were called to the 1600 block of Bishop Road, where residents in the area were reportedly firing a .22 rifle.

Just before 8 p.m. on Christmas day, deputies were again called to the Sunnyside area when two cars were reportedly racing in the 2700 block of Murray Road. The incident was phoned in by a five-year-old child.

Also near Sunnyside yesterday, Sunday, a hit-and-run accident was reported in the 200 block of Maple Grove Road when a motorist rammed into a fence and left the scene.

Yakima PD find stolen gun, drugs

YAKIMA--A stolen gun taken off the streets of Yakima Sunday afternoon.

People living on the 700 block of South 8th Avenue called police several times overnight regarding a loud party next door.

Every time officers responded, the partiers refused to let them in.

Police came back Sunday morning with search warrants, and after taking nine minors into custody in the first search, officers found a handgun hidden in the home's fireplace several hours later.

Police traced the gun back to a Sunnyside home. The owners had reported it stolen two weeks ago.

Police say they'd make more busts like this if they had the resources.

"Normally officers are so busy running from call to call we don't have the time to do some of the extra things or go the extra mile a lot of times that it requires."

Police arrested eleven minors for underage drinking, and hope to connect one of them to the stolen pistol.

YPD officers and Yakima County Sheriff's Deputies also found roughly 25 grams of marijuana, pipes, bongs and several scales.

Henne said they will not be able to charge any of the suspects with attempting to distribute or felony possession because the amount does not meet the 40 grams needed to constitute a felony under Washington law.

Yakima- man shot at hotel

YAKIMA, Wash. --A 63-year-old man was arrested at the Bail Hai Motel in Yakima early this morning and is being held on suspicion of shooting another motel guest in the neck.

Police officers went to the motel at 710 N. 1st St. at 2:23 a.m. and found Robert H. Tromblee had a gunshot wound, according to a news release by the Yakima Police Department.

Ronald K. Dean surrendered to officers at the scene and was later booked into the Yakima County jail on a charge of attempted murder.

It was unclear what promped the shooting, but Trombley and Dean had been staying in adjacent rooms at the motel, said Capt. Greg Copeland. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor.

Tromblee, 21, was transported to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. His injury was not believed to be life-threatening.

- Yakima Herald-Republic

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sunnyside- shots fired

Sunnyside police report that "shots fired" were heard on December 26 on the 500 Block of the Yakima Valley Highway.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Toppenish- Christmas Eve drive-by

TOPPENISH, Wash. — Authorities are investigating a Christmas Eve shooting in the 600 block of Adams Avenue.

Nobody was injured in the drive-by shooting, which took place about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, according to a news release from the Toppenish Police Department.

Police said somebody in a white, four-door vehicle shot at a home and drove off through an alley. Officers found three bullet holes in one of the home’s windows.

No suspects have been identified.

— Melissa Sánchez

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Grandview murder suspect says victim was pregnant with his child

YAKIMA, Wash. — Authorities say the Grandview teenager accused of killing a 16-year-old girl Sunday told police the girl was pregnant with his unborn child.

Until now, few details have been released about the relationship between Heriberto Saucedo, 17, and Chelsie Stoneking, both of Grandview.
But a Grandview police report released today by prosecutors states that Saucedo said “that he was aware that (Stoneking) was pregnant with his unborn child.”

Yakima County Coroner Jack Hawkins said an autopsy of Stoneking did not find a viable fetus. But her blood work will be tested for signs of an early pregnancy.

Stoneking’s relatives — who have deferred questions to her mother — have said the pair had lived together in the past but were only friends. Stoneking’s mother could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Saucedo has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder and was arraigned today in Yakima County Superior Court. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

His relatives have also declined to comment. Authorities in Grandview who are investigating the case could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Stoneking was discovered dead early Sunday morning at her home in the 200 block of Pleasant Avenue. An autopsy Tuesday determined that she was suffocated, stabbed and beaten to death.

According to court records, Grandview police accuse Saucedo of raping, choking and stabbing her.

Hawkins said the autopsy did not reveal any evidence of rape.

During his arraignment, Saucedo asked the judge when he could speak with a lawyer. He said he didn’t know if his parents could afford to hire a lawyer or if he would use a public defender.

Stoneking was the mother of a 7-month-old son, who will now be taken care of by her mother. Herald-Republic birth records don’t list a father.

She was a sophomore at Grandview's Compass High School, an alternative program for students who work or have children.

Saucedo’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 21, with trial tentatively set for Feb. 1.

He remains at Yakima County Jail, with bail at $1 million.

Melissa Sánchez can be reached at 509-577-7675 or

Kennewick teen pleads guilty to stabbing

Jacenir DaSilva, 15, of Kennewick, changed his plea Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court to guilty of first-degree assault in the May 7 knifing of a younger boy.

DaSilva, who admitted the attack was not self-defense, will be sentenced in early January.

Court records state DaSilva and two friends saw and chased a 13-year-old boy who was walking on Olympia Street in Kennewick. DaSilva stabbed the boy twice in the back while his accomplices held the victim on the ground.

The boy's injuries, while serious, were not life-threatening.

DaSilva has been in custody in the Benton County jail with bail set at $100,000.

2009 one of bloodiest years in the Valley

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Twenty-five victims -- gang members, drug users, a Toppenish father eating dinner with his family -- have been killed this year in Yakima County. It's a bloody total unmatched since 1987, when the Yakima Valley drug trade was in full bloom.

The only other year that has come close in recent times was 2005, when 24 homicides were reported.

Considering that gunfire -- most of it gang-related -- is reported across the county at least weekly, the number should be higher except for some combination of dumb luck, divine intervention, physics or modern medicine.

"We're just lucky we don't have twice as many homicides," said county Coroner Jack Hawkins, whose cell phone rings with disturbing regularity late at night.

From Yakima to Grandview, cops this year have needed Hawkins on average twice a month to oversee an autopsy that will record the number of gunshots, measure the knife wounds or define exactly how badly the victim was bludgeoned or choked.

In 2005, a 25th death was initially treated as a possible homicide.

That was because of the case of a Toppenish woman, whose corpse was found by a nosy dog weeks after she disappeared.

An extensive investigation never resolved how the woman arrived in the alfalfa field, but few people would mean to die there.

Sheriff Ken Irwin agreed that 2009 has been a bad year for violence, but he said the public should recognize that such streaks come and go.

"On the larger, longer view of it, you run into these spikes. They're very tragic, but you know it will go back down for a variety of reasons," Irwin said.

Irwin attributed the 2005 number to the popularity of methamphetamine and suggested that gangs are to blame this time around.

Police agencies across the county, social service programs and community members are working to address the gang problem.

Gangs are historically linked to a large number of the county's homicides -- about a third this year. Drugs and domestic violence are the other major factors, although a random innocent victim enters the line of fire from time to time.

One of Yakima's 10 homicides was a self-defense case in which the intended victim pulled a gun on a robbery suspect who hit him in the head with a stick.

Besides the Yakima cases and two investigated by the sheriff's office -- one deemed self-defense, the other a Montana woman's puzzling death on Interstate 82 -- the rest of the county's homicides took place in Lower Valley communities or rural parts of the county.

Police have made arrests or identified a suspect in 12 of the deaths.

But investigations continue, as demonstrated by the use of DNA this year to arrest a suspect in the 1987 death of a Lower Valley woman.

Irwin credited the Yakima County Violent Crime Task Force -- launched this year with sheriff's deputies, Yakima police and their federal counterparts, among others -- with targeting bad guys.

"I can't imagine how things would be going right now if we didn't have that task force working so well," he said.

Meanwhile, communities across the county are searching for ways to reduce the gang influence on their streets. Work continues on an initiative for caseworkers to meet with gang-involved families in the Outlook area in hopes of reducing their criminal activity.

A 2008 dispute in Outlook led to the stabbing death of an Sunnyside girl whose body wasn't discovered until February in the Yakima River. Months later, an Outlook boy was arrested in connection with shooting at two sheriff's deputies, wounding one of them. Investigators say witnesses reported he wanted to gain gang status by "flaming these two pigs."

Despite budget cuts that recently forced a sheriff's drug detective back to patrol, Irwin said he was hopeful that continued work by police and others would keep hammering away at the crime rate.

"You've got to keep moving. You can't just bunker down and say, 'We'll let the bad guys come to us.'"

* Mark Morey can be reached at 509-577-7671 or

Yakima County homicides

1999 -- 11

2000 -- 14

2001 -- 10

2002 -- 10

2003 -- 10

2004 -- 10

2005 -- 24

2006 -- 10

2007 -- 15

2008 -- 18

2009 -- 25

Source: Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Yakima County Coroner's Office and Yakima Herald-Republic records.

Yakima- police identify homicide suspect

YAKIMA — Police are searching for two roommates of the 24-year-old who was gunned down in his front yard Tuesday night.

Juan Valencia, 22, has been identified as the suspect in the shooting death of his roommate, Joel Mendoza Mora, said Yakima police Sgt. Mike Pollard.

Police believe he and another roommate, Israel Gutierrez, who is being called a “person of interest,” have left the state.

The two men are different than two others who were arrested and released earlier due to lack of evidence, he added.

“Those people have been cleared,” Pollard said, adding that the detectives are still unsure what happened Tuesday night at the home in the 1800 block of Greenway Street.
“We’re still kind of open ended, we haven’t ruled anything out,” he said. “We really don’t know if it was just an argument or what the details were.”

Officers checking on reports of gunfire discovered Mora’s body about 11 p.m. Tuesday in his front yard, where he had been shot in the neck and shoulder. Authorities say drugs may have been involved in the homicide.

Valencia — who is also known as Evaristo Rodriguez Luna — is described as 5 feet, 6 inches tall, and of medium build. Police have not yet released a photo of Gutierrez.

Both men are believed to be armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 509-575-6200.

— Melissa Sánchez

Selah- another armed robbery

SELAH, Wash. — For the second time this week, an armed robber took cash and cigarettes from a store in the Yakima area.

The incident was reported late Wednesday at the Shell gas station off Interstate 82 near the main gate to the Yakima Training Center.

Yakima County sheriff’s deputies say a man knocked on the store’s locked door just before 11:30 p.m. When an employee opened the door for him, he showed a gun and demanded money.

He received an undisclosed amount of cash and also took the cigarettes before he left, deputies say.

Immediately after, callers reported gunfire in the area. Authorities believe the robber may have fired the shots to intimidate the clerk and a witness at the store.

Deputies, state troopers and training center police soon arrived but could not locate the suspect.

He was described as a clean shaven, light complected Hispanic, in his 20s and about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds. He was wearing a blue stocking cap, black coat and black jeans.

On Monday night, two men armed with machetes robbed the Yakima Walgreens store at 40th and Summitview avenues of cash and cigarettes.

In another robbery in which cash was taken, two men armed with guns held up the Shell station on South First Street in Selah on Tuesday night.

— Mark Morey

Yakima man gunned down in front of his own house

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Authorities continued their investigation Wednesday evening into the shooting death of a 24-year-old Yakima man.

Joel Mendoza Mora, who lived in the 1800 block of Greenway Street, was found dead in the front yard of his home by police officers checking on gunfire about 11 p.m. Tuesday. He was mortally wounded by gunshots to the neck and shoulder, detectives said.

After releasing two possible suspects due to a lack of evidence, investigators said Wednesday afternoon that they were making progress in the 25th homicide of the year in Yakima County.

"We've got some leads we're working, but nothing I can share," Sgt. Mike Pollard said.

Pollard said the prospect that drugs were involved remained a "very viable scenario," but he declined to discuss details that prompted detectives to reach that conclusion.

Witnesses told police that two men left the scene in separate vehicles after the shooting.

The two were taken into custody in the 1700 block of South 14th Avenue, but they were later let go, detectives said. However, Pollard said detectives had not ruled anyone out in connection with the death.

Police were looking for two men in their early 20s. Witnesses said they left the shooting scene in a black Chevrolet-type pickup and a black full-sized sport utility vehicle, according to a police news release.

Anyone with information about the case may call police at 509-575-6200.

Grandview Homicide suspect to be tried as adult

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The 17-year-old boy accused of killing a teenage girl in Grandview last weekend will be charged with first-degree murder in adult court, authorities said.

Heriberto Saucedo was transferred Wednesday to Yakima County Jail, where his bail remains at $1 million. A Yakima County Juvenile Court commissioner signed an order Wednesday to move the case to adult court.

He will be arraigned at a 1:30 p.m. hearing today in Yakima County Superior Court.

Saucedo is accused of killing Chelsie Stoneking, 16, who was discovered dead early Sunday morning at her home in the 200 block of Pleasant Avenue. An autopsy Tuesday determined that she was suffocated, stabbed and beaten to death.

It remains unclear what the relationship was between her and Saucedo. Police and prosecutors have released few details, and members of both families have not said much.

A relative of Stoneking said the girl and Saucedo had lived together as friends. Both families declined to comment after the hearing Wednesday at juvenile court.

Saucedo had initially been charged in juvenile court with second-degree murder. But County Prosecutor Jim Hagarty said the charge was elevated because the homicide appears to have been premeditated. The charge may still be revised, depending on the ongoing Grandview police investigation, he added.

Relatives said Stoneking was a mother. Her 7-month-old son, Quincy Don Stoneking, will now be cared for by his grandmother. Herald-Republic birth records don't list a father.

Stoneking was a sophomore at Grandview's Compass High School, an alternative program for students who work or have children.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kennewick man tried to hire hitman to kill witness

A 32-year-old Kennewick man wanting to avoid going back to prison found himself in more trouble after allegedly trying to hire someone to murder a key witness.

Soloman Luke Swanson, also known as "Cowboy," offered to pay up to $5,000 to someone to kill a confidential informant set to testify in an upcoming drug trial, Benton County District Court documents said.

Swanson was out on bail in his pending drug delivery case, but on Tuesday was ordered held without bail in the Benton County jail on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

He was arrested around 8:40 p.m. Monday after the Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force, Kennewick police and the Benton County Sheriff's Office were tipped off about the solicitation, authorities said.

The tipster, a convicted felon who four years ago shot someone during a drug deal, reported the possible murder-for-hire case to the sheriff's office earlier Monday.

Metro was then contacted because drug detectives already were investigating Swanson, police said.

The man said Swanson had given him $100 and was to pay him $3,000 to $5,000 to kill someone expected to testify against Swanson at his trial next month, documents said.

Swanson faces a Jan. 25 trial in Benton County Superior Court on five counts of delivery of meth and one count of possession of meth with intent to manufacture/deliver. The charges also include special allegations that the crimes occurred within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop, which could double his sentence, if convicted.

Swanson was arrested in April after Metro Drug Task Force detectives set up five controlled buys with Swanson between Jan. 9 and April 16, documents said.

Each time, a confidential informant was sent into Swanson's home with money to buy meth, and would return with the drugs after about one to four minutes, documents said.

Three of the sales allegedly were made while his kids were there.

Swanson reportedly told the hired hitman the name of confidential informant, where the informant lives and a description of the informant's vehicle.

He said "he did not want to go back to prison and needed it done by Jan. 9," documents said.

An undercover investigation was quickly started and detectives got a judge's approval to put a wire on the tipster so they could record his conversation with Swanson, documents said.

The man contacted Swanson by phone, then met in person where they "discussed the planned murder, payment and other people being ready to do the job if (the hired hitman) didn't," documents said.

Additional people are being sought for questioning in connection with the investigation.

New legislation to seize gang property?

Houses, cars and other assets used to support criminal gang activity could be seized by law enforcement, forfeited and sold under legislation proposed by Reps. Norm Johnson and Charles Ross.

Johnson pre-filed House Bill 2413 for introduction in the coming January legislative session after seeing gang violence in the Yakima area escalate to troubling proportions.

"Several homicides this year in our area are gang related. We've had shootings near schools, and gang violence is becoming rampant in some smaller, outlying communities. Law enforcement is very concerned, as well as local law-abiding citizens," said Johnson, R-Yakima.

"We are determined to make it very difficult for gangs to spread this plague into our neighborhoods. The legislation we propose will hit gangs where it hurts the most -- in the pocketbook. They stand to lose their most prized possessions if they engage in criminal activity."

The legislation is patterned after a drug asset seizure law, which allows law enforcement to legally confiscate and take possession of houses, cars, cash and other properties that have been proven to be involved in drug-related crimes.

Ninety percent of the proceeds from the assets would be retained by the seizing police agency exclusively for the expansion and improvement of criminal street gang-related law enforcement. The other 10 percent would be retained by the state.

"We are going to continue what we started with the gang legislation in 2007," said Ross, R-Naches. "The spread of gangs is like the spread of wildfire: we must find ways to shut off the supply to the growth. While this is not an easy battle, I believe we must do everything we can to end criminal activities and the spread of fear throughout our communities."

Another piece of legislation, House Bill 2414, would classify criminal gang activity as a nuisance and provide a process for neighbors or anyone within a one-block radius to file legal action to stop that activity.

"This legislation essentially empowers neighbors who are bothered by nearby criminal gangs to formally file a complaint and sign an affidavit outlining the suspected activity," said Johnson. "From there, law enforcement is mandated to investigate. This may follow with a court injunction, restraining orders, a search of the property, and other means to eliminate this nuisance, including possible arrests.

"If gang members are feeling the pressure of the community, the heat of law enforcement, and a strong possibility they will lose everything they own, they may think twice about continuing their involvement in these crimes."

Ross said it is amazing to him what neighbors and friends can accomplish when they stand up against gangs together.

"This legislation gives people a voice when they might otherwise be afraid, and encourages them to work with law enforcement to stop gang activities as they happen."

Both bills have bipartisan support with Republican and Democrat co-sponsors.

Locally, Sunnyside police think the bill is a step in the right direction.

Sunnyside Police Chief Ed Radder told the Daily Sun News the bill will put more teeth in gang laws. He said criminal gang members don't mind doing 30, 60 or even 90 days in jail, but do mind when their ill-gotten gains are taken from them.

"It has incredible potential," Radder said. "It could have positive impact on crime."

Radder added that there are lots of checks and balances before any property can just be seized.

Another boon would be the added money for criminal investigations. Currently, any money made on items seized in a drug crime is spent only on drug investigations. The same rule would apply here.

"It's shown to work in the drug world," Radder said. "I see no reason why it can't work in the gang world."

Yakima County homicide rate highest since 1987

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The death of a 24-year-old man in a possibly drug-involved shooting pushed Yakima County’s 2009 homicide total to 25 late Tuesday, tying the 1987 record.

Law enforcement officials agreed that this felt like a particularly bloody year, augmented by a steady stream of gang-related shootings that, almost miraculously, haven’t added to the death toll.

The county’s annual homicide average has been edging closer to 20 over this decade. Two-dozen homicides were reported in 2005, according to statistics maintained by the county coroner’s office.

Sheriff Ken Irwin said such spikes are tragic, though expected. He attributed the 2005 number to the popularity of methamphetamine, suggested that gangs are to blame this time around and predicted that homicides would again decline.

Police agencies across the county, social service programs and community members are working to address the gang problem.

-- Mark Morey

Selah- gunmen rob store

SELAH, Wash. — Two masked men robbed a Selah gas station at gunpoint on Tuesday night, police say.

The robbery was reported at 10 p.m. at the Shell station in the 300 block of South First Street, according to a news release issued this morning by the Selah Police Department.

The robbers entered the store, displayed handguns and demanded cash, police said. The two employees inside were not hurt.

The pair fled with an undisclosed amount of money. They were driving a small, white two-door car.

The victims described one of the robbers as white, 5 feet 6 inches tall and 130 to 140 pounds. He was wearing a ski mask, red shirt, blue jeans and black boots. The second suspect was also wearing a ski mask, but a detailed description was unavailable.

Anyone with information on the case may call Selah police at 509-698-7347.

— Mark Morey

Monday, December 21, 2009

Grandview- asshole arrested for stabbing death of teenage girl

GRANDVIEW, Wash. — The victim in the weekend stabbing death in Grandview has been identified as 16-year-old Chelsie Stoneking of Grandview.

She was found early Sunday at her home in the 200 block of Pleasant Avenue.

Police say they have arrested a 17-year-old boy in connection with Stoneking’s death.

The girl had apparently been stabbed to death, according to an updated news release issued this morning by the Grandview Police Department.

Yakima County Coroner Jack Hawkins says the girl suffered stab wounds to the back, neck and abdomen. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

No motive had been determined, police said. Beyond saying the victim and suspect knew each other, the news release did not describe their relationship.

Stoneking’s family members called her a “good kid” who was attending Grandview’s Compass High School while raising a 7-month-old baby.

“She’s a darn good kid and she didn’t deserve what she got,” said her father, Ed Stoneking of Mabton “She was raising her baby and she was doing a good job of it.”

Her grandmother, Ilene Stoneking, echoed the sentiments: “She was a sweet loving little girl that didn’t deserve this.”

They declined to discuss any more about her.

Yakima- fleeing suspect shoots at cops

YAKIMA, Wash. — A man being chased by police regarding an attempted snowblower theft fired a half-dozen shots at a pursuing sheriff’s deputy, authorities say.

Heavy fog Friday night required both Yakima police and the Yakima County deputy to discontinue their pursuit of the pickup in which the man was riding.

A Yakima officer spotted two men trying to load the snowblower in the back of the truck near 35 Avenue and Tieton, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. The men got back in the truck and fled west on Tieton.

Due to high speeds, the chase was stopped after the truck ran a red light.

The deputy spotted the truck as it sped past 66th Avenue on Tieton with its lights off, authorities said. Soon after the deputy started a second pursuit, the passenger in the truck fired six shots back toward the patrol car. Neither the car nor the deputy were hit.

When the truck’s speed exceeded 80 mph with the lights still off, the pursuit was terminated due to safety concerns.

Anyone with information about the incident may call the sheriff’s office at 509-574-2500.

— Mark Morey

Yakima- men w/machetes rob store

YAKIMA, Wash. — Two men armed with machetes early this morning robbed the Walgreens store at Summitview and 40th avenues, police say.

The two men, who used bandannas to cover their faces, entered the store about 2:40 a.m., according to a news release from the Yakima Police Department.

They were given an undisclosed amount of cash and cigarettes before fleeing in a maroon Pontiac Grand Am, described as a late 1980s to early ’90s model, police said.

The three employees and one customer in the store were not hurt.

Both men were described as 18 to 20 years old and between 160 and 200 pounds. They were wearing dark clothing.

Police ask anyone with information about the case to call 509-575-6200.

— Mark Morey

Toppenish robberies

TOPPENISH, Wash. — Police say they made arrests in an attempted purse-snatching and are investigating a commercial robbery that took place Sunday.

The robbery was reported about 10 p.m. at an unnamed store in the 600 block of East Toppenish Avenue.

The clerk told Toppenish police that a man demanded money after brandishing a firearm. He left on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Officers searched the area and were able to collect evidence, but the suspect remained at large, according to a Toppeniish Police Department news release.

The suspect was described as between 20 and 30 years old. He was wearing a dark-colored, hooded sweatshirt and dark jeans.

Police ask anyone with information about the case to call 865-4355.

In the other case, a woman described as elderly told police that another woman tried to grab her purse in the 700 block of West First Avenue at 3:20 p.m.

When she was unable to take it, the thief returned to the van she was riding in and the vehicle left the area.

Officers soon stopped the van and arrested a woman from the Lakewood, Wash., area. They also arrested a suspected accomplice, a girl from the Wapato area, according to the news release.

— Mark Morey

Sunnyside police press release on burglary epidemic

Residential Burglary Epidemic
Sunnyside, WA- Sunnyside Police have recently responded to a string of daylight residential burglaries. Police believe that these suspects may be traveling in groups and somewhat on foot. The suspects may be disguised as door to door solicitors. Witnesses state that the suspects may be knocking on doors to see if the residents are home, if the residents are home they move on to the next house. If you see any suspicious activity, people or vehicles in your area do not hesitate to call Sunnyside Police at 509.836.6200 or 911.

Additional Information:

- Law Enforcement often sees a higher number of residential burglaries during this time of year, however the number seen in Sunnyside since November 1, 2009 exceeds what is considered normal for this time of year.

- If possible witnesses should get license plate numbers of suspicious vehicles.

- There is a reward of up to $250.00 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of a person or people in this crime.

Wapato- jury out on shooting that hurt innocent teen

YAKIMA, Wash. — Jurors will resume deliberations this morning in the trial of a man accused of wounding an innocent teen during a gang-related shooting outside of Wapato.

The victim, Jose Salinas, then 16, continues to undergo medical treatment in Seattle from the injuries he received when the bullet slammed into his jaw, traveled down his spine and lodged near his kidneys.

Defendant Joshua Perez, 23, is charged in Yakima County Superior Court with two counts of first-degree assault and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. The trial began Dec. 14.

The incident occurred Feb. 21 on Horschel and Hoffer roads outside Wapato.

Investigators said the shooting followed a confrontation between gang rivals as one side was holding a birthday party for a young girl. Salinas lived in a nearby house, and Perez had lived at his grandmother's house on Horschel Road for several years, authorities said.

There were no eyewitnesses who pointed to Perez as the one who shot Salinas. Authorities identified Perez as the suspect in part because of a statement by a woman attending the birthday party, Mayra Corona, who was also the victim named in the first assault count.

Another witness testified that Corona came into the house where the party was being held soon after the confrontation and said, "That scrap, Josh Perez, shot me."

"Scrap" is a derogatory term used by red-wearing gang members -- historically known in California's Hispanic gang world as Nortenos -- to refer to their blue-wearing rivals, known as Surenos.

Perez's gang-related tattoos include the word "Sureno" above his left eyebrow.

As it turned out, Corona was not wounded, and she had to be brought into court under a material witness warrant.

Prosecution witnesses testified that Corona, known to have gang ties, had asked Perez to identify himself as he and several others were walking along the road in front of the house where the party was taking place.

The first round of shots soon followed in front of the house.

Salinas' brother, Sergio, testified that a second round of gunfire came from the doorway of Perez's grandmother's home. One round struck Jose Salinas, who was inside his house.

Perez's DNA was found on a beer can tossed alongside the road, and several .357-caliber casings and live rounds were found in the front yard of the Perez home.

While acknowledging that Corona did not come across as a star witness, deputy prosecutor David Soukup asked the jury to consider the state's entire case in order to reach a guilty verdict.

"It's a sequence of events that you can see makes sense, especially in the context of the gang," he said in his closing argument.

Defense attorney Amanda Stevens blasted the prosecution's entire case as "hearsay statements, allegations and speculations." She suggested to the jury that detectives had settled for the "quick and convenient" suspect rather than ruling out other possibilities.

She called Perez's sister, Tasha Perez, to testify that she was at the house with her grandmother and other relatives, but not her brother, when the shooting broke out.

Among other points, she questioned whether Sergio Salinas could have seen the muzzle flashes he described as coming from the doorway of the Perez home.

"Or is he wanting justice for his brother, just as any brother would?" she said.

Perez did not testify.

* Mark Morey can be reached at 509-577-7671 or

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Toppenish- man shot

TOPPENISH — An 18-year-old Harrah man received nonlife-threatening injuries after being shot three times Saturday night, according to the Toppenish Police Department.

The incident occurred at 8:15 p.m. in the 100 block of North Fir Street. According to the news release, the victim — whose name has not been released — said he was walking in the area when he was confronted by a car full of gang members yelling threats at him.

They fired three rounds, which hit him in the leg and lower abdomen. He was transferred to an area hospital. His condition was not immediately available Sunday.

Two vehicles were seen leaving the area at a high rate of speed.

Both were described as ’90s-model Hondas, possibly Accords or Civics. One is white with a green stripe and the other is gray or silver. Specific information on the suspects was not available. The case is considered gang- related.

Anyone with more information on the shooting is encouraged to contact the Toppenish Police Department at 509-865-4355.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yakima- 15yo shot

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A 15-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to the leg during a drive-by shooting Friday night in Yakima.

The drive-by occurred about 9 p.m. in the 1400 block of Roosevelt Avenue.

While officers were responding to the call, the victim arrived at a local hospital, according to a news release from the Yakima Police Department.

He told police that he and his brother were walking west on Roosevelt when a vehicle drove by and several shots were fired at them, according to the news release.

The boy was struck in the right leg and received a grazing wound on his left calf. His wounds are not considered life threatening, police said.

His brother was not injured.

Police were looking for an older, four-door, dark-colored vehicle that was last seen fleeing east on Roosevelt.

According to police, the shooting is likely gang-related.

Toppenish- assault w/firearm

Toppenish PD report an assault with a firearm occurred on December 19 on the 100 block of Franklin Ave.

Sunnyside- shots fired

At around 2:30pm on December 19 the Yakima County Sheriff's Office received a report of shots fired in the area of Swan Rd and NW Crescent right outside of Sunnyside. It is not know if any arrests were made, but there is a Sureno house in the area that has been shot at in the past.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mattawa murder suspects confess

TRI CITIES, WA -- The man accused for murdering three people and robbing half-a-dozen convenience stores in a a trail of destruction that spanned three counties, faced a judge for the first time Thursday.

J. Guadalupe Martinez-Lopez made his first appearance in Grant County Superior Court charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. All the charges have firearm enhancements.

"He confessed to the murder and alluded to the fact that he'd been involved in several other armed robberies," Grant County Undersheriff John Turley told Action News.

In a statement to authorities, Martinez- Lopez said he shot a man named Oaxaca in his car, claiming he was mad at Oaxaca and a group of others for an alleged rape of a young girl in the past. As Oaxaca stumbled into the street, Martinez- Lopez stated he stood over him and fired another round. The body was found on Road 26 near Mattawa.

Witnesses said he then went to a mobile home where the rest of the group lived on Road 24.7. The documents report Martinez-Lopez stood on the front porch, telling the group that "what they did was wrong" and opened fire. Two men died, including Pedro Rivera Sanchez, 21.

The other victims are still not known.

Documents said he then drove to Sunnyside, held up the Pik-a-Pop store in the 1500 block and Hiway Fruit in the 200 block along the Yakima Valley Highway. He bought dinner with the stolen cash, police reported.

At that point, authorities were waiting for him, including Sunnyside, Granger and Grandview police, the Yakima County Sheriff's Office, the Washington State Patrol and the FBI. Coincidentally, Martinez-Lopez pulled right up next to an undercover police car.

"This was just a horrible person that we finally were able to find," Turley said.

Martinez-lopez was known to friends as "Pareja", Lupe or Lupian. Turley said he was a Mexican national who lived in Mattawa. "He had a second grade education, came from Michoacan (Mexico)."

Without U.S. documents, Turley said little is known about his past. But by 24 years old, Martinez-Lopez become known to authorities as a hardened criminal.

"He was living day to day by robbing people at gunpoint," Turley said.

From what we know, his crime spree started November 28th with an armed robbery at the Metro Mart on 10th and Lewis in Pasco. Two days later, he hit up One Stop, less than one mile away from the first robbery.

Two days after that, on December 2, Martinez-Lopez robbed Sandovals, a Basin City convenience store in North Franklin County. He also robbed a customer that happened to be inside. An hour later, Pasco police suspect he high-tailed it back to Pasco, where he's suspected of robbing Atomic foods on 4th Avenue.

"I was not scared but the employee was really shaking, she was crying," Atomic Foods owner Hardip Grewal told Action News after the incident.

At that point, investigators told Action News, they feared he was getting increasingly violent.

And five days later, police said, he did. In a signed statement, authorities said Martinez-Lopez confessed to gunning down three men in a mobile home near Mattawa on December 14.

"I feel sorry for the people in south county because that's truly a good area down there," Turley said.

While Martinez-Lopez scoffed at an alleged rape, he was apparently still untroubled by robbery. A day after the murders, police said he drove to Sunnyside where he robbed convenience stores.

Martinez-Lopez will be arraigned in grant county on the murder charges Tuesday, December 22.

To read the full probably cause statement on the investigation from Grant County deputies, click here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Names of those arrested for Mattawa killings

The following were arrested at the El Valle restaraunt and booked into the Sunnyside jail for suspicion of murder:
Carrasco, Lucia Crystal, 24, of Sunnyside
Diaz, Miguel A, 23, of Mattawa
Guzman, Ignacio, 25, or Mattawa
Martinez Lopez, J. Guadalupe, 24, of Mattawa
Perez - Ruiz, Patricia, 25, of Sunnyside
Ramos, Juan Josue, 23, of Mattawa

Sunnyside- Mattawa killers arrested

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — A group of people arrested Tuesday night here may include at least one man wanted in connection with a triple homicide near Mattawa.

Grant County Undersheriff John Turley told The Associated Press today that a suspect involved with Monday’s slaying of three Latino men near Mattawa was arrested Tuesday evening by the Sunnyside Police Department and the FBI.

Turley said this afternoon that the arrested man — believed to be the primary suspect — had been transferred to the Grant County jail.

He said he was waiting to confirm with detectives whether they had been seeking more than one suspect in the deaths. More information will be released later today, Turley said.

Details are still fuzzy, but on Tuesday police took as many as six people into custody at a popular Yakima Valley Highway restaurant in Sunnyside, said Charlotte Hinderlider, a Sunnyside Police spokeswoman.

She did not know what led police to the location but said witnesses and staff at the restaurant cooperated with police.

“There’s just really a lot wrapped up in these things,” she said.

At least some of those arrested are still being held at the Sunnyside jail.

Officers from Granger and Grandview assisted.

Among the group was a man police suspect robbed two convenience stores this week, Hinderlider said.

He walked into the restaurant while officers were there, shortly after the most recent alleged robbery was reported about 9 p.m., Hinderlider said.

His connection to the homicides was unclear, she said.

Sunnyside- robbery suspect (and Mattawa killings suspect) arrested

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — Police here say they have arrested a man who may have robbed two convenience stores this week along Yakima Valley Highway.

However, investigators are releasing almost no details because an investigation is still underway, said Charlotte Hinderlider, Sunnyside Police Department spokeswoman.
Police arrested the man Tuesday night at a Yakima Valley Highway Restaurant with a group of people who may be connected to Mattawa’s triple homicide.

Detectives are still sorting out his connection, Hinderlider said.

However, detectives believe the man held up a Pik-a-Pop store in the 1500 block Saturday and Hiway Fruit in the 200 block about 9 p.m. Tuesday night.

In Saturday’s robbery, police said, the man pointed a gun at the clerk demanding money and then fled with the cash. A few days later, police released a photo taken from a security camera asking for help identifying the suspect.

Detectives believe the man in custody is the man in the photo.

Hinderlider would not provide details about Wednesday’s robbery.

Police also did not release the name and age of the suspect, something they normally do after an arrest.

“There’s a lot of investigation that still needs to take place before we’re going to give out a name,” Hinderlider said.

The Yakima Herald-Republic typically withholds names of suspects until they are formally charged in court.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wapato drive by

A drive by shooting occurred on the 4500 block on N Track Rd in Wapato on the 14th of December at about 6:30 pm. At least one man was hit.

Mattawa- triple homicide

MATTAWA -- Three men were shot to death near Mattawa, and it appears they were targeted and it wasn't a random act, authorities said Tuesday.

Grant County deputies responded to a call of gunshots at 9:15 p.m. Monday at a house on the 21000 block of Road 24.7 SW, about two miles outside of Mattawa.

One man was found dead at the scene. A second man found "barely alive" died in an ambulance despite medics' efforts to save him. The body of the third man was found lying on the road a couple of miles away, said Grant County Undersheriff John Turley.

All three had been shot. Turley did not elaborate on how the third victim might have gotten so far from the first scene.

"At this time we are not saying this is gang-related," he said.

Officials believe the victims were targeted and this is not the work of a random killer or killers, Turley said.

Investigators have identified one of the victims as a local man but are not yet releasing his name. The identities of the other victims are not yet known, Turley said.

The Washington State Patrol crime lab is helping gather evidence.

Mattawa is about 40 miles east of Yakima, near the Columbia River. The small town's population is 98 percent Hispanic, and the area has been struggling for some time with a big influx of gangs and illegal narcotics trafficking.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Toppenish slaying suspects in court

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The suspects in the gang-related shooting death of a 22-year-old Toppenish man made their first court appearances in the case Monday.

All three were arrested after a police raid at a Yakima home on Sunday.

Bail was set at $1 million for the 19-year-old murder suspect.

A witness who wanted anonymity because she feared imminent retaliation for talking to police identified the shooter, who reportedly admitted to others that he was the shooter.

The suspects' car was later located by police in Wapato.

Bail was set at $30,000 for a man arrested on suspicion of illegally possessing a firearm on the night of the murder. The man displayed a gun after being asked to leave a party in Toppenish.

The eventual victim and others with him were just arriving at the same party when the suspect showed the gun.

The homicide victim, Ladislado Avila, was later driving in Toppenish when he and his friends noticed they were being followed. They tried to evade the following car, but Avila was hit once in the head by a bullet.

The third suspect was being held on parole violations. Police said they expected to seek unspecified charges against related to the homicide.

Yakima- Police name suspect in homicide

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima police announced today they’re seeking Alexander Quintana, 29, for Saturday’s shooting death of a 21-year-old man on Baker Street.

They believe Quintana shot William Kreder in the head after Kreder went to a house in the 1100 block of Baker Street shortly before midnight to buy drugs.

“Witnesses were present that knew him and recognized him as the shooter,” Yakima police Capt. Greg Copeland said.

According to police, a witness said Kreder entered the residence just before midnight and was inside a short time when a shot rang out. The witness looked inside, saw Kreder was shot in the head and called police. Kreder died at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital at 4:50 a.m. Sunday.

Quintana, who police call a known gang member, is also wanted by the state Department of Corrections on an escape warrant. That stems from repeatedly missing meetings with his parole officer. Copeland said.

“It’s not like he did a jailbreak or anything like that,” he said.
But Quintana does have at least four felonies on his record, Copeland said. Specifics of his criminal past were not immediately available.

Police do not know whether Quintana is still in Yakima, Copeland said.

Quintana should be considered armed and dangerous, police said. He has a scar on his right cheek and a “666” tattoo on the front of his neck.

- Pat Muir

Yakima- stabbing suspect now robbery suspect

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The 21-year-old sought by Yakima police for a Sunday stabbing is now also suspected in a bank robbery this morning.

Police say Aurelio Venegas robbed the Central Valley Bank, 301 W. Yakima Ave., at 10:40 a.m. The robber handed a teller a note and left with an undisclosed amount of cash. No weapon was seen.

“We got a pretty good description from the teller,” Yakima police Sgt. Scot Levno said.

That description, specifically mention of a mole on the left side of the robber’s face, led police to link the robbery with Sunday’s stabbing, at a Fairbanks Avenue apartment.

“It turns out it’s the same guy,” Levno said.

Police believe Venegas stabbed another 21-year-old man in the face and head Sunday morning. That man reported waking to find Venegas attacking him. Both men had arrived at the apartment in the 1300 block of Fairbanks Avenue earlier that morning. The victim was conscious and alert when police arrived at 9:35 a.m. He was taken to Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center.

Police say Venegas is 5-foot-5 and Hispanic with a small build and that mole on his face. He was last seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and baggy jeans.

It’s unclear whether he’s still in Yakima, Levno said.

“We’re opining that maybe he needed the cash to get out of town (following the stabbing),” he said.

Sunnyside- police seek man in robbery

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Police here need help identifying a man who robbed a convenience store at gunpoint Saturday night.

Police believe the man about 8:30 p.m. entered the store in the 1500 block of Yakima Valley Highway, made a purchase, displayed a gun to the clerk and demanded money, according to a news release today.

The suspect then left the store with an undisclosed amount of cash, the release said.

For more information,
call Sunnyside Police at 509-836-6200.

Grandview- ex-gang member assaulted

The Daily Sun News reported that Monday, December 14, a man who described himself as a former gang member was assualted outside a convenience store on Euclid. The man was stabbed several times and was able to flee when one of the assailants pulled a gun.

Another Wapato stabbing

The Wapato police reported another stabbing at 8:15 in the morning on December 14.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Zone Defense" may be employed against gangs

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- As lunch ends at Sunnyside High School, police descend on four teenagers standing outside an apartment complex about two blocks from the school.

The apartment manager who called police says he doesn't want them there.

The teenagers tell officers they're waiting for someone; two are known gang members displaying gang colors.

Ordering them out of the area, Sunnyside Police give the teenagers written notice that they'll be arrested for trespassing if they return.

Without a complaint from the apartment manager, police would not have been able to break up the group unless a crime had been committed.

School officials statewide hope to change that by getting legislation passed that establishes "safety zones" around public schools to prohibit gang activity.

Under the proposed law, anyone displaying colors, flashing gang signs or believed to be involved in criminal activity could be removed from areas within 1,000 feet of public schools without probable cause. If they return before being allowed back into the area, they would be subject to a civil injunction and could be arrested for trespass, a gross misdemeanor.

The proposed safety zones law is outlined in a recent 67-page report by the Gangs in Schools Task Force commissioned by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The report also calls for information sharing among school districts about students who are gang members, and additional school funding for prevention and intervention programs.

Law enforcement officials have expressed strong support for civil injunctions, and two years ago, state Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches, tried to get them approved in legislation as another tool for police to use against gangs.

But the provision was removed by Democratic lawmakers who worried that the injunctions would result in racial stereotyping.

Supporters are hoping a renewed push for civil injunctions -- one that would include political backing from school districts and educators -- will be more successful. Their proposal is to use the injunctions in more limited areas near school campuses.

It's just one piece of a larger solution needed to combat a growing gang problem, said state Attorney General Rob McKenna. He's working with the Gangs in Schools Task Force to draft legislation.

"We're seeing many instances of one teenager shooting and killing another teenager, and that has changed from what we were seeing in the late 1980s and 1990s," McKenna said. "The violence is so much more obvious."

In Yakima County alone, at least eight of the nearly two dozen homicides so far in 2009 have been gang related. And shootings were dangerously close to schools twice this year in Yakima.

On Dec. 3, a 19-year-old gang member was injured when rival gang members fired more than a dozen shots in the 200 block of South Naches Avenue, where students were walking home from Washington Middle School.

And on Oct. 28, a 22-year-old man was injured in a drive-by shooting near Davis High School just as students were leaving campus.


A2008 state Department of Health survey -- the Healthy Youth Survey -- found that the number of high school students admitting involvement in a gang has doubled since 2002, surging from nearly 5 percent to 10 percent of the students surveyed.

Beginning in sixth grade, students are surveyed every two years. In the 2008 survey, 30,346 of the state's 46,416 students in grades six, eight, 10 and 12 participated.

In Yakima County, 594 students admitted gang membership -- 7.7 percent of the 7,638 students surveyed in grades eight, 10 and 12.

The survey also found that gang membership peaks in 10th grade, mirroring national statistics, and drops off after that.

Many students who are connected to gangs drop out or are kicked out of school by the time they reach their senior year, said Tyson Vogeler, program supervisor for school safety with the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

No one knows just how many students in public schools are involved in gangs statewide because there is no way to track them all.

"It's a huge issue, and when you're looking for numbers, they're hard to come by," Vogeler said.

The Gangs in Schools Task Force, composed of school officials, law enforcement and crime prevention representatives, was created as the result of a bill approved by state lawmakers in 2007. Its mission was to assess how gangs are affecting schools in Washington and to propose solutions.

McKenna and others believe that one potential strategy for combating gang membership may lie in California, where civil injunctions have been used by schools and law enforcement since 1994.

Authorities in Los Angeles say civil injunctions there have created a safer environment for students walking to and from school.

Studies show crime has dropped anywhere from 5 percent to 40 percent in the 41 safety zones covering roughly 100 square miles of the 500-square-mile city, said Bruce Riordan, chief of the gang division for the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office.

Civil injunctions there identify specific gangs and gang members to be excluded from areas, and they help police quickly gain control of an area when gang violence touches off, he said.

"When you have the injunction in place, police can get out immediately and enforce the injunction, quiet the neighborhood and stop the retaliation," he said.

In Washington state, enforcement of gang-free safety zones would rest on school officials and police, including student resource officers, which many schools have.

There would be both verbal and written warnings issued, depending on the level of situation, said Vogeler, who worked on the task force and proposal.

A verbal notice would exclude a person from the area for 24 hours, while a written warning would bar them for up to a year. Notices would be subject to appeal.


School officials and law enforcement officers say they see it often: Gang members hanging out across the street from schools and in nearby parks where students walk to and from school.

The gang task force commissioned by OSPI heard a common complaint from school officials: gangs reaching into their campuses to recruit members, said Randy Town, school safety coordinator for Education Service District 105 in Yakima.

"We've got gang houses across from schools intimidating kids," said Town, co-chairman of the gang task force that produced the report. "So we wanted to empower schools against this activity."

Although the proposed law wouldn't force any gang members to move, it could be used to keep them from bothering others in streets and on sidewalks, he said.

"I'm all for it," said Toppenish School District Assistant Superintendent John Cerna. "The farther we can keep those undesirables away, the better, because what's happening is they are waiting for our kids after school, recruiting."

Gang culture has not only overrun many neighborhoods in the Yakima Valley, it has caused even good kids with bright academic futures to get sucked into gangs, said Yakima School District Safety and Security Director Lee Maras.

For some students, it's not so much a desire to join as it is a desire to survive.

"I've had more than a few kids tell me that 'if I don't act like I'm part of this, then I'm going to get hurt,'" said Maras, also principal of McKinley Elementary School in Yakima. "I can't tell you how many times I've had parents say, 'I can't keep my kids home at night.' They're staying out all night and they're only 10 years old."

Sunnyside High School Student Resource Officer Joey Glossen said breaking up the group of teenagers at the apartments not far from the high school on Dec. 3 may have quashed recruitment efforts or a clash with rival gang members. He hasn't seen those teenagers in the area since police warned them away.

"I know that at least one of those four kids is not a gang member," he said. "But he's hanging out with them, and that concerns me."


A legislative bill has yet to be drafted on the safety zone, but lawmakers are interested.

"If it will create a safer environment for students at schools, I'm all for that," said Ross, who has been a leading advocate of anti-gang legislation. "I think we need to investigate and go forward with it."

Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union said they'd oppose any law that excludes anyone from any area without probable cause.

ACLU spokesman Doug Honig in Seattle said a law excluding a certain group of people from a public place without good reason would violate constitutional rights.

The civil liberties group would be concerned about a law that targets "not just how someone may look or speculation of what someone might do," he said.

Town, ESD 105's safety coordinator, countered that the proposed law would specifically target activity, such as any gang activity that may interfere with students or disrupt school operations.

"We realize that this may potentially be challenged by other legal authorities, but we are ready to jump in with other legal authorities and create the legal language until this meets constitutional muster," he said. "California had been challenged and had to retool bills to meet constitutional muster."

In Olympia, legislation for civil injunctions may depend on Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, who added an amendment stripping the language from the bill Ross co-sponsored in 2008. She told colleagues that civil injunction laws in California had led to racial and ethnic harassment rather than a decline in gang activity.

"This gave the opportunity for rounding up people with brown skin like mine," said Prentice, who is Latino. "This is just a reaction to our own failure (as a society). ..."

While it's not known how receptive lawmakers might be to the idea of safety zones near schools, they'll be wary of any legislation that comes with a price tag given the state's budget problems.

The task force says there would be no direct cost to implement safety zones, but they would likely seek funding to create prevention and intervention programs in schools.

Ross is still trying to get money for that 2008 gang bill, which was ultimately signed into law. The legislation he co-sponsored with Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, also called for community intervention programs. The money was never allocated.

Something has to be done to put a lid on the gang problem in the state, said Ross, a member of the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

"I hope at the end of the legislative cycle, the Legislature as a whole does not use the budget as an excuse to not do something," he said.

* Phil Ferolito can be reached at 509-577-7749 or

Toppenish- more info released on Toppenish shooting

TOPPENISH, Wash. — Authorities have released additional information on the three people arrested Saturday in connection with a fatal drive-by shooting on Dec. 5 in Toppenish.

Five people were initially arrested in a multi-agency search at a home in the 1000 block of South Seventh Street in Yakima, according to a Toppenish Police Department news release. Yakima police and Yakima County’s Violent Crimes Task Force and other agencies assisted in the warranted search.

Authorities said three men were booked into Yakima County Jail in connection with the killing of Ladislado Avila, 22. One suspect, who is 19, is being held pending a first-degree murder charge, according to the news release. The other two, both 20, are being held pending a firearm charge and an outstanding warrant, respectively.

Avila, 22, died two days after he was struck in the head by a single bullet as he was driving in the 600 block of Washington Avenue in Toppenish. He crashed his car into a tree after being shot.

Yakima- man shot and killed during drug buy

YAKIMA, Wash. — A Yakima man died early Sunday after being shot at a home where he’d gone to buy drugs on Saturday night, police said.

William D. Kreder, 21, died at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital on Sunday morning after being shot in the head several hours earlier, according to a news release from the Yakima Police Department.

Police said a witness told them that Kreder had gone into the home in the 1100 block of Baker Street in an attempt to buy narcotics shortly before midnight.

The man told police that he heard a gunshot a short time later and looked into the home to discover Kreder had been shot in the head. He then phoned authorities from a neighbor’s home, police said.

The home is about three blocks east of Yakima Valley Community College.

Kreder was taken to Memorial, where he died about 4:50 a.m.

The case remains under investigation. Police urge anyone with knowledge of the case to call them at 509-575-6200.

Yakima- arrest in Toppenish killing

YAKIMA -- Police have arrested three young men in connection with a drive by gang killing in Toppenish. On December 5th, 22-year-old Ladislado Avila was driving in a car with his friends when a gunshot came from the car following them. He was hit in the head and died 2 days later. A swat team caught the three suspects at a Yakima home on Saturday morning. Now 19-year-old Rudy Madrigal of Toppenish, along with 20-year-old Justin Cavasos, 20-year-old Fabian Arredondo are behind bars waiting to be charged.§ion_id=16&story_id=17456

Yakima- teen faces murder charges

YAKIMA -- Toppenish Police, YPD and the Violent Crime Task Force all on the scene of a SWAT call in Yakima. An anonymous tip led them to 7th Street and La Salle Satruday and now one of the 5 people in custody is facing murder charges.

19-year-old Rudy Madrigal has been charged with first degree murder after he was picked up at a SWAT call. Toppenish Police say Fabian Arredondo now faces homicide related charges. Justin Cavasos is being charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. The other two people were released.

Toppenish Police say the homicide shooting from last week is gang related and the aftermath of a fight at a party.

Watch the story

Yakima- stabbing suspect sought

YAKIMA, Wash. — Police are looking for a man who stabbed another in the face and back Sunday morning at an apartment in 1300 block of Fairbanks Avenue.

The 21-year-old man who was stabbed told police he woke up to the other man attacking him, according to a Yakima Police Department press release.

Both men had arrived at the apartment during the early morning and the 21-year-old fell asleep on the floor, authorities said.

When police arrived about 9:35 a.m., the man had significant stab wounds to his face and to the back of his head, but was conscious and alert. An ambulance took him to Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center.

Officers have identified the suspected stabber, a 21-year-old, and are searching for him.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Perales may face death penalty

YAKIMA -- A man facing a murder charge in the death of a Sunnyside girl may also face the death penalty.

Jesus Perales is accused of killing 14 year-old Francisca Ramirez. Police say Perales stabbed Ramirez because she had planned to make rape accusations. The yakima county prosecutor's office says that makes Perales eligible for the death penalty.

Ramirez's family supports that punishment, should Perales be found guilty.

"That's basically what we want, he needs to pay for what he did to my sister, and hopefully justice will do that," says the victim's brother, David Bravo.

Perales' arraignment was rescheduled for next week. The prosecutor may make a decision on the death penalty soon.

Yakima- armed robbery

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A man armed with a short-barreled rifle robbed a restaurant Thursday evening, police said.

The robber wore a nylon stocking over his head while taking an undisclosed amount of cash from the Tacos Del Rey restaurant in the 1200 block of South Sixth Street, according to a news release from the Yakima Police Department.

Police said they arrived soon after the robbery was reported at 7:05 p.m., but they could not locate the suspect, who was last seen heading north on foot.

The four employees and several customers were not hurt.

The robber was described as about 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 150 pounds. Besides the nylon stocking, no clothing description was given in the news release.

Police asked anyone with information about the case to call detectives at 509-575-6212.

Grandview- 4 teenage gangsters arrested in burglaries

GRANDVIEW -- Police say they have arrested four teenagers in connection with numerous burglaries in the Grandview area.

The four boys, all suspected of being gang members, were arrested Thursday afternoon as part of a multiagency operation to serve search warrants at five Grandview locations, according to a news release from the Grandview Police Department.

Investigators said the stolen property they were seeking included firearms.

A 16-year-old was arrested on suspicion of burglary and trafficking in stolen property; a 17-year-old was arrested on suspicion of possessing a stolen firearm that was found in his room; and a 15-year-old and 16-year-old were arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property at their homes, police said.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sunnyside- shots fired on Parkland

Sunnyside Police reported "shots fired" calls from the 100 Block of W Parkland on December 10.

Pasco- PD looking for stabbing suspect

PASCO, Wash. -- Pasco police are searching for a suspect who stabbed another man late Wednesday night.

Police say 22-year-old Henry Henning was stabbed several times during an altercation at Stonegate Apartments on Road 68. It happened around 11:30 pm.

Pasco Police are searching Eric D. Redmond, the alleged suspect. Redmond is 21-years old and is last known to live in Kennewick. He is described as a white male, 5-10, 178 lbs, brown hair, and brown eyes. He also has a tattoo of lips and a skull on his lower right neckline.

Pasco police are also looking for a gold 2001 Cadillac Deville, with Washington license plate number 456-YPV. They say that car was used to drive Redmond from the area.

If you know where Redmond is, call Pasco Police at 509-545-3484.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yakima to receive $500,000 for anti-gang effort

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yakima County would receive a half-million dollars to fight gang problems under a final spending bill expected to be signed by President Barack Obama, Sen. Patty Murray announced Wednesday.

The money would go toward a multi-agency effort to turn kids away from gangs or keep them from joining. The initiative would include police, schools and social service agencies.

In a statement released by the Washington Democrat’s office, Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin credited voters with approving a sales tax to support law enforcement efforts across the county.

“Unfortunately, given the rapid increase in gang-related crime and violence, we need more assistance in the areas of gang prevention, intervention and suppression,” Irwin said. “We believe we need state and federal assistance in meeting this incredible challenge to our community.”

It’s unclear when the Senate and House will send the bill to the president for his consideration.

Toppenish- pics of murder suspects

UPDATE: TOPPENISH, Wash. -- Toppenish police tell us that the 22-year-old who was shot in the head Saturday morning died late Sunday night.

The victim has been identified as Ladislado Avila. Police say he was in the car with three friends when another car drove by and opened fire. It all happened on the 500 block of Washington Avenue.

Officers are now looking for three suspects:

20-year-old Justin Cavasos, 20-year-old Fabian Arredondo and 19-year-old David Sandoval.

If you know where any of these suspects are, call Toppenish Police.


TOPPENISH, Wash. -- A Toppenish man is clinging to life after an early-morning drive-by shooting Saturday.

The 22-year-old victim is in critical condition after being shot in the head.

Toppenish police say the victim was driving south down Washington Avenue with three passengers at about 1:25 a.m. Saturday when a car began following them.

Passengers in the car say that's when someone in the suspect car--described as a gray or teal Honda--shot at the victim's car.

One round hit the driver in the head. He lost control and crashed into a tree near the corner of Washington and Elm, uprooting the tree.

The driver was taken to a Yakima hospital in critical condition. As of 5:00 p.m. Saturday his condition had not changed.

The victim's name has not been released.

Police do believe the shooting is gang-related, but have not told KNDO of any suspects.

They are following leads at this time and ask anyone with information to call Toppenish Police at 509-865-4355.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sunnyside- shooting on SW Crescent

Sunnyside police report "shots fired" on the 200 Block of SW Crescent on December 8.

Wapato stabbing

The Wapato Police Department reported a stabbing 600 block of Horschel at about 2:30 am.

Toppenish- manhunt for three gang members in homicide

TOPPENISH, Wash. -- Toppenish police say they are looking for three gang members in connection with the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old Toppenish man this weekend.

Ladislado Avila died after being struck in the head by a single bullet as he was driving in the 600 block of Washington Avenue early Saturday, authorities said. He crashed his car into a tree after being shot.

Three friends of the victim who were in the car told police that someone in a car that was following them fired a gun toward them, according to the news release.

Police are seeking three known gang members as persons of interest, but a news release issued Monday afternoon did not elaborate on how they may be tied to the incident.

Police said the men -- a 19-year-old Toppenish man and two 20-year-old men from Zillah -- should be considered armed and dangerous.

Investigators are also seeking a newer silver Chrysler 300 in connection with the shooting. The car had chrome rims.

An initial news release described the suspect vehicle as a teal or gray Honda. It fled south on Elm Street, police said.

Anyone with information about the case may call the police department at 509-865-4355.

The death is the 22nd homicide reported this year in Yakima County.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Outlook -Herald article on Outlook gangs


OUTLOOK, Wash. -- There is a degree of lawlessness in this small community that goes beyond the shooting of a Yakima County Sheriff's deputy last summer.

In a neighborhood where roaming dogs and chickens outnumber homes, locked metal gates betray any sense of small town neighborly trust.

One out of every five residents, authorities say, belongs to a gang.

"You see kids on the street, kids who look like they're up to no good. But we don't say anything to them," said Guadalupe Liceo, a 72-year-old retired farm worker who has lived in Outlook for about 13 years. "You get nervous talking to them because they might come back and do something to you."

The Outlook ZIP code covers about 34 square miles of quiet dairies, vineyards, orchards and vast fields of corn and asparagus. The problem, authorities say, is a cluster of homes in a roughly six-block area that is the historic heart of the larger unincorporated community.

It's here where about 470 residents live in 129 mostly weathered, single-story homes and trailers on weed-filled plots. Graffiti covers a number of the buildings.

Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin and others estimate it's home to 100 to 150 gang members.

Investigators said a 16-year-old charged with shooting a deputy in the leg last July in Outlook did so to impress gang members. A week later, two of his relatives were arrested on drug charges.

Last month, a 22-year-old Outlook man was arrested and charged in the death of a 14-year-old runaway who authorities said was killed after saying she planned to report being raped at an Outlook party.

At least three teenagers have been shot in Outlook in the past 16 months. And in 2007, a 20-year-old man was shot and killed as he and two friends were loading his children into a car for a trip to a store.

No community block watch groups exist here. There are few organized activities for young people. Law enforcement falls to the Yakima County Sheriff's Office, but only four deputies are on patrol at any given moment for the entire Lower Yakima Valley.

"Realistically, it's usually less," said Lt. Max James. "We go and give it attention as we can."

Dorothy Cullen, an 81-year-old widow who lives alone a few miles north of town, said something needs to happen, and fast. She remembers a time when everybody knew everybody else and nobody locked their doors at night.

That can't happen anymore, she said. In October, a woman who lives close to Cullen's house was tied up and robbed at gunpoint inside her own house.

No arrests have been made, but authorities say the suspected robbers are gang members.

"I'm certainly not an expert on it, but it is scary. Gangs are getting braver is the heck of it," Cullen said. "It would be nice for something to be done but I haven't decided what it could be. If they could just give those kids something to do."

In a way, the July 20 shooting of Deputy Bobby Miranda may bring some relief.

Miranda has since recovered and returned to duty. He continues to patrol the Lower Valley, Outlook included.

His shooting mobilized law enforcement and school officials to choose Outlook as a test site for a new approach to combat gangs.

Details are still in the works for the "Weed and Seed" approach, said Randy Town, a part-time deputy and schools safety coordinator for Educational School District 105, an umbrella organization that provides a variety of services to local school districts.

"We're beginning to design a series of activities for young people," Town said. "We need to get a feel for what the community of Outlook wants to accomplish for their neighborhood."

What is certain is that the program -- funded largely with a $40,000 grant from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs -- will pay for a social worker who will go into homes after gang-related arrests.

The case manager, who will be hired by early January, will work with low-income families with children at risk of joining or who have already joined gangs. Half of the job will be to assess families' needs and provide referrals for counseling support groups, medical assistance or other social services.

"We found that poverty is a big contributor to why people get involved in gangs," said Heather Elmore, education services manager for the Northwest Community Action Center, which is involved in the project. "So we want to make sure that the real basic needs are met -- that there's food, the heating bills are paid, that there are beds to sleep on," she said.

The second half of the job will be community organizing, to help residents develop improvement projects they would like to see, such as a soccer field or skate park.

If successful, it will be replicated in other gang-heavy cities such as Sunnyside, Irwin said.

"Law enforcement has a part in it, but we have been able to bring these people to the table to help the families," he said. "(We're still) going to scrape the crud off every chance we get to make the streets safer day and night for the people who live there.

"We're going to rebuild neighborhoods and that entire community, with the community itself leading the way."

Liceo and others say it's about time something is done to alleviate the problem.

On a recent afternoon, he pointed to bullets lodged in the side of his house and to his van, where the stereo had been stolen.

"The authorities are worried about gang violence here?" Liceo said. "I'm worried about gang violence."

* Melissa Sánchez can be reached at 509-577-7675 or

If you go

WHAT: Forum to solicit ideas for improving Outlook.

WHEN: 6-7:30 p.m. Jan. 11.

Where: Outlook Elementary School, 3800 Van Belle Road.

ALSO: A dinner will be provided.