Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Grandview- Gun incidents result in multiple arrests

GRANDVIEW - Last Friday at approximately 2:45 p.m. Grandview police raced to the 200 block of Avenue E for a report of shots fired.

The incident was believed to be gang related, a shooting between BGL and LVL gang members.

Witnesses at the scene said a black sedan with three occupants fled the scene and two other subjects fled on foot.

Grandview police were able to obtain detailed descriptions of the two suspects on foot and were led to believe they knew the identities of the subjects.

A search warrant was obtained for a known resident of one suspect and officers visited the home on Crescent Avenue. One suspect, Santiago Brito, 18, was detained by officers at the residence.

A second suspect, Alejandro Montes de Oca, 18, was not as cooperative, but eventually was detained, as well.

The search warrant resulted in the recovery of .380 caliber bullets matching a casing found at the shooting scene. Officers also uncovered drug paraphernalia and found a .380 semi-automatic pistol located in the attic of the home.

Montes de Oca is being held by the Grandview Police Department on a requested charge of obstructing an officer. Brito is in custody on a requested felony charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

This past Saturday another five individuals were arrested after police were alerted to suspicious activity in the 200 block of Douglas Avenue. The call was received at about 1:30 p.m. and officers arriving on the scene located six individuals surrounding a car there.

An attempt to question the subjects was made, but one individual fled from officers on foot. Another officer noticed the man was carrying a gun.

The five remaining subjects were detained and taken to the Grandview Police Department for questioning.

One subject limited his cooperation, detailing for police what had been happening when officers arrived. He was, however, unwilling to identify the suspect who fled the scene.

The subject told officers a second gun could be located in the vehicle the group had been surrounding, and none of the suspects were willing to provide the name of the weapon's owner.

As a result, Rafael Medina, 20; Julian Williams, 19; Adam Leyva, 20; Sergio Ramirez, 18; and a 17-year-old female juvenile are all in custody for a requested charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.

The male suspect, only known to police as Jose, has not yet been located.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Toppenish- Three gang members arrested for allegedly beating man

TOPPENISH -- Police arrested three gang members suspected of badly beating a 35-year-old Toppenish man Friday night.

Police found the victim unresponsive in the first block of West Third Avenue after responding to the 8:35 p.m. call.

Police said they arrested three people they believe responsible for the beating: two men, 22 and 18, and a 17-year-old boy.

They attempted to flee the scene, police said. The victim was punched and kicked in the face and suffered broken bones in his face and several cuts on his body, police said.

Police said the victim was in stable condition and that the incident is still under investigation.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Yakima- Gang member in custody after Friday night shooting

YAKIMA, Wash. - A 19-year-old man remains in custody at Yakima County Jail today after he allegedly shot another man in a Yakima parking lot Friday night.

Officers responded to a report of shots being fired at 11 p.m. on the 900 block of North Fourth Street, according to a news release from the Yakima Police Department. They found a 22-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the right side of his head.

The victim told police he was in a vehicle outside a business when a man entered from the passenger side, pulled out a gun and tried to rob him of cash, Sgt. Erik Hildebrand wrote in the news release. The victim fought back and grabbed the gun, but the suspect shot him in the right ear.

Hildebrand said the suspect thrust the gun into the victim’s stomach and tried to fire the gun again. However, the victim was able to disarm the man, who then took off running.

Officers found him and took him into custody. They identified the 19-year-old as a known gang member. He faces charges of 1st-degree assault and 1st-degree robbery.

The gun was recovered at the scene of the shooting and was later identified as being stolen.

The victim was treated at a local hospital and was later released.

- Yakima Herald-Republic


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Union Gap drive by, minor injuries

NION GAP, Wash. -- Police are continuing their investigation into a Saturday drive-by-shooting in which an 18-year-old man was struck but not seriously injured.

About 2:15 a.m. Saturday, police said they responded to a call about shots fired in the 2100 block of South Fourth Avenue, and learned that a man suffering from a gunshot wound had been taken to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

The man was struck in the leg by a small caliber round, but it didn't penetrate his skin, police said.

Police said the shooters fled the scene before they arrived, and believe the shooting was the work of rival gang members. No other injuries were reported.

Detectives are working leads and ask anyone with information about the shooting to call the Union Gap Police Department at 248-0430, police said.

- Phil Ferolito


Friday, April 16, 2010

Wapato body identified as Joseph John

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The body of a man found in an irrgation canal near Granger has been identified as Joseph John, 19, of Yakima.

Coroner Jack Hawkins said John was identified by by dental and medical records as well as clothing that matched a description at the time of his disappearance last December.

An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday.

Sheriffs deputies said the body was found Thursday by a federal employee performing maintenance work on a diversion dam in the Marion Drain near State Route 22 and Track Road.

The body was badly decomposed but Hawkins said the man’s dentist confirmed dental records. John also had a steel plate in his elbow that established his identity, Hawkins said.

John, a Canadian living in Yakima, was last seen with Fernando Figueroa, 20, of Yakima, whose body was found Jan. 7 southwest of Toppenish. He had been shot repeatedly and wrapped in plastic.

No suspects have been announced in Figueroa’s death.

— Leah Beth Ward


Sunnyside council meets to address gang violence

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — The Sunnyside City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss, and maybe implement, a few steps in tackling the city’s violent crime problem.

Council members will talk about and possibly take action toward hiring temporary police officers, adding more clerical help in the Police Department and purchasing a second license plate reader for police vehicles among other proposals.

City leaders have taken a get-tough attitude about gangs after several shootings this year. A trio of councilmen —Don Vlieger, Paul Garcia and Mike Farmer — have been compiling a list of potential changes with the help of Sunnyside Police Chief Ed Radder and Deputy Chief Phil Schenck.

“We’re going to get very aggressive,” said Vlieger, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy. “This is not a place where you want to be a gang member.”

Last week, monday, april 12 the City Council unanimously approved spending up to $72,000 on a K-9 program for the Police Department.

Also, though it won’t be ready for a council decision Tuesday, Schenck has been drafting a proposed crime-free housing ordinance that would regulate tenant-landlord agreements.

The meeting will be 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Sunnyside Law and Justice Center, 401 Home St.

— Ross Courtney


Sunnyside- five teens arrested after shooting

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — Cooperative victims led to the arrest of five teenagers after a gang-related drive-by shooting Wednesday night.

Sunnyside police said shots were fired from a passing vehicle at rival gang affiliates living in two houses in the 1200 block of South 13th Street.

Nobody was struck, but at least two people were standing in the front yard when shooting broke out at 7:40 p.m., said police spokeswoman Charlotte Hinderlider.

The victims identified the five suspects and their vehicle, a 2005 silver Mitsubishi Lancer, Hinderlider said. That information made the difference.

“A lot of times people don’t talk,” she said.

The tip led police to stop the car at the intersection of Sunnyside-Mabton Road and Willowcrest Road, about two miles south of the shooting. Officers also found a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun at the scene, where they made the arrest, Hinderlider said.

The suspects are a 16-year-old boy from Prosser, a 16-year-old boy from Grandview, a 15-year-old boy from Sunnyside, a 14-year-old girl from Grandview and an 18-year-old woman from Sunnyside.

Police found several .22-caliber shell casings in the street and around the houses where the shooting occurred, Hinderlider said. One
of the houses was damaged.


Sunnyside- couple arrested for weed and guns

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — Authorities discovered more than 2 pounds of marijuana plus guns and ammunition Wednesday in the apartment of a Sunnyside couple.

Narcotics agents with the countywide LEAD Task Force arrested the man and woman, both 20, after the warranted search of their apartment in the 1300 block of South 11th Street, according to records filed in Yakima County Superior Court.

Authorities said they found marijuana in the kitchen cupboards and inside their 3-year-old son’s bedroom. The apartment is located within 100 yards of a day care center, according to the report.

The investigation began in January and authorities believe the man is actively involved in the drug trade.

Both face multiple drug charges and are being held in the Yakima County jail.


Wapato- another body in the canal

GRANGER, Wash. — Yakima County sheriff’s detectives are investigating the discovery of a body in an irrigation canal outside of Granger.

The body was discovered Thursday by a federal worker conducting routine maintenance on a small diversion dam in the Marion Drain near State Route 22 and Track Road, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

The body, believed to be that of a man, appeared to have been in the water for several months. It was so decomposed that nothing further could be determined at the scene, according to the news release.

An autopsy will be scheduled today or Saturday to try to identify the man and determine a cause of death, county Coroner Jack Hawkins said.

There was no immediate indication whether the body might be connected to the county’s first reported homicide of 2010.

That case also involved the discovery of a body in the Marion Drain, one of the county’s few irrigation canals that has water flowing year-round.

The body of Fernando Figueroa, a 20-year-old Yakima man, was discovered Jan. 7 southwest of Toppenish. He had been repeatedly shot and wrapped in plastic.

Joseph Ezequiel John, a 19-year-old Canadian man living in Yakima, was last seen with Figueroa on Dec. 30. He was not considered a suspect, but sheriff’s detectives have been unable to find him since Figueroa’s body was found.

No arrests or suspects have been announced in Figueroa’s death.

So far this year, 10 homicides have been reported across the county, most of them in Yakima.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunnyside woman shot in driveby condition improves

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A 24-year-old Sunnyside woman critically wounded in a drive-by shooting this weekend has been upgraded to satisfactory condition at Sunnyside Community Hospital, authorities said Monday.

She was shot multiple times in the torso, according to the Yakima County Sheriff's Office.

Two other men riding in the same car as the victim were treated at the Sunnyside hospital for gunshot wounds and released, said Stew Graham, chief of detectives for the sheriff's office.

A 23-year-old Sunnyside man was shot in the arm. Family members later took the other man, a 33-year-old Grandview man who was shot in the cheek, to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for additional treatment, Graham said.

The shooting was reported late Saturday in the 2200 block of Waneta Road outside of Sunnyside.

The victims said that a dark-colored sport utility vehicle pulled alongside their car and fired several rounds. The car struck a roadside fence before returning to the pavement and coming to a stop about a quarter-mile from the shooting scene.

The suspect vehicle was possibly a Chevrolet Tahoe or Cadillac Escalade, but the victims told investigators they did not know why anyone would shoot at them, Graham said.

Sheriff's officials were checking on possible leads with help from the Sunnyside Police Department.

At least one of the victims has gang ties, but investigators said they did not know if the shooting was gang-related.

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


Yakima- 19 yo injured in shooting

YAKIMA, Wash. — Authorities are investigating a shooting early this morning in southeast Yakima that wounded a 19-year-old.

Yakima police responding to reports of gunfire about 1:05 a.m. found Jose C. Campos with multiple gunshot wounds inside his home in the 1300 block of South Seventh Avenue, Sgt. Tony Bennett wrote in a news release.

Witnesses told police that somebody shot at the victim from outside the home, Bennett wrote. No suspects have been identified. The shooting is considered gang-related.

Campos is being treated for his injuries. His condition could not be immediately determined this morning.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Yakima Police Department at 509-575-6200.

— Melissa Sánchez


YPD probes farm workers' murder

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A 24-year-old farm worker was found shot dead in his home Sunday night and authorities say his girlfriend and vehicle are missing.

Mariano Guzman Moedana died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head, said Yakima County Coroner Jack Hawkins.

He had already been dead for more than a day when a roommate found the body on the floor of his room at their apartment in the 1100 block of North Fourth Street, authorities said.

Yakima police Lt. Mike Merryman said it's too early to call the girlfriend a person of interest or a suspect in the homicide.

"Obviously, we need to talk to her. But we don't want to jump the gun," he said. "She could be a victim, too."

Merryman said there had been no reports of gunfire in the area in the days before Guzman Moedana was found.

Neighbors described him as calm and hard working. They said Guzman Moedana was from Pachuca, the capital city of Hidalgo state in central Mexico, and had been living with two or three other farm
workers in the same apartment complex for about three years.

Guzman Moedana's relatives in Mexico have been notified, authorities said.

Yakima police continue to investigate, Merryman said.

"We have no suspects and nobody under arrest," he said. "Hopefully we make an arrest soon.

His death marks the city's seventh homicide and the 10th in Yakima County so far this year.

"Our numbers are about the same as last year," Hawkins said. "I was really looking forward for the year to end so we can slow down.

This time last year, nine homicides had been recorded countywide. A total of 25 homicides were recorded in 2009.

* Melissa Sánchez can be reached at 509-577-7675 or msanchez@yakimaherald.com.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sunnyside car fired on, 3 injured

Yakima County sheriff's deputies, and officers from Grandview and Granger, as well as aid units from the Sunnyside Fire Department rushed to the scene of a shooting this past Saturday at approximately 11:30 p.m.

Three victims, a 33-year-old male, a 23-year-old male and a 24-year-old female, were shot in a vehicle chase that occurred at Waneta and Hollis roads south of Sunnyside.

According to sheriff's deputies, four subjects were traveling south on Waneta Road in a 1993 Mitsubishi sedan. They were nearing Hollis Road when a dark SUV pulled beside the vehicle and shots rang out.

The driver of the Mitsubishi, the 33-year-old victim was reportedly shot in the face, and his vehicle left the roadway, striking a fence. The vehicle returned to the road for approximately another quarter of a mile before coming to a complete stop.

A passenger in the Mitsubishi, a 23-year-old man, was struck by a single bullet to the arm and the female passenger suffered multiple gunshot wounds to her torso.

One other passenger was not injured by gunfire.

The SUV continued southbound on Waneta Road and was last seen traveling in the direction of Mabton.

The victims were all transported to Sunnyside Community Hospital. The men's wounds were last reported to be non-life threatening, but the female was considered in critical, but stable condition. As of yesterday, the Yakima County Sheriff's Office was unable to provide an update on her status.

It is unknown how many suspects were involved in the shooting, and evidence collected at the scene indicates at least one handgun was used in the armed attack.

The only information deputies have regarding the suspects is they were in a dark SUV, which may have been a Cadillac Escalade.

The victims have known gang ties, but the sheriff's office said it is unknown if the shooting was gang-related.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yakima- teen shot in arm

YAKIMA, Wash. — A 17-year-old male was shot in the arm Sunday afternoon in what police believe was another gang-related shooting.

It happened about 1:50 p.m. in the area of Summitview and 30th avenues, Yakima police Sgt. Lloyd George wrote in a news release.

Authorities believe the teenager and his associates were in a gold Honda when someone in a blue or dark green Ford Explorer shot at them.

The teenager, who sustained gunshot wounds to his upper right arm and a grazing wound to the back of his head, initially told police that he and his friends were shot at while walking in the 1800 block of Summitview Avenue, the release said.

But police believe he was in the gold-colored Honda that witnesses had described in the area of 30th and Summitview avenues.

Authorities later impounded a gold Honda with several bullet holes in it.

Police are looking for the Ford Explorer, which has tinted windows. Witnesses told police the driver was a female and the male shooter was described as a bald Hispanic male.

The teenager’s wounds are considered nonlife-threatening.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Grandview gangsters' house shot at

GRANDVIEW - At approximately 9 p.m. yesterday (Thursday) Grandview police officers rushed to a home in the 1000 block of Powell Street after having received several reports of gunfire there.

Grandview police say the home is believed to be occupied by gang members.

Officers located eight bullet casings believed to be .45 caliber. The casings and several bullet holes were found on the back of the property, with several bullets having penetrated the rear of the home. There is not an alleyway behind the home.

Two bullets were located and recovered from inside the home's kitchen, indicating a smaller caliber gun was also used in the shooting incident.

One victim and his daughter reported being inside the kitchen when the shooting occurred. He told officers he saw glass fly past the youngster while she was seated at the kitchen table.

After speaking with the six occupants of the home and nearby residents, witnesses told Grandview police an older Cadillac had been seen in the area just prior to the shooting.

The incident is under investigation. Anyone with information regarding the shooting is urged to call the Grandview Police Department at 882-2000.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Granger woman shot in driveby

GRANGER, Wash. — A 21-year-old woman is in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after being shot in the upper body Sunday afternoon.

According to a news release from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, Veronica Gonzalez was wounded at about 4 p.m., when shots were fired from a vehicle toward her home in the 500 block of Hudson Road.

At least one bullet entered the house and struck Gonzalez. Other occupants of the house escaped injury. The woman was initially treated in Yakima before being transferred to Harborview.

The suspects fled in a white, four-door sedan. Police believe the shooting is gang related, although Chief of Detectives Stew Graham said Gonzalez is not a known gang member.

Anyone who has information on the shooting is asked to call the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office at 509-574-2500.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Reward offered for Sunnyside murder suspects, two more SS homes shot at

The Sunnyside Police Department is offering a $1,000 reward for each of the five suspects wanted for the March 26 shooting of Romon Mendoza, Maria Reyes and a third unidentified victim that took place at Sunnyside's Rico's Tacos Guadalajara restaurant.

Wanted are Lisandro Rangel, 21; Alfonso Rangel Jr., 27; Ramon Medina-Gutierrez, 21, Juvenal Moreno-Garcia, 25; and Tanilo Medina (a.k.a. Guadalupe Fernandez), 26, all of Sunnyside.

Mendoza died as a result of multiple gunshots and Reyes is still recovering from wounds she sustained in the shooting incident. The third victim was treated and released from Sunnyside Community Hospital the night of the shooting.

"The arrest of these individuals takes precedence for the Sunnyside Police Department," said Sunnyside Police Chief Ed Radder.

He said the police department is concerned for the safety of Sunnyside residents and is placing a high priority on locating the suspects in the shooting.

Anyone with information about the case or the location of the five suspects is urged to call the Sunnyside Police Department at 836-6200.

Since last Thursday Sunnyside police have been busy handling other criminal activity, as well.

Two homes in the 900 block of South 11th Street and the 1100 block of Jackson Avenue were reportedly hit by gunfire just after 1 p.m. yesterday (Sunday). Noone was reported injured in the incident. It is believed a white or gray Altima was involved in the shooting.

Five burglaries and three thefts have been reported to police since Thursday.

A back door in the 100 block of West Parkland Drive was pried open sometime before 6:20 p.m. Thursday and it is unknown what was stolen.

Friday a resident in the 700 block of McClain Drive reported a man wearing a blue bandana was trying to break into her apartment just before 8 a.m. The screens to several windows were removed and the woman's boyfriend yelled at the suspect, who fled the scene.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Sunnyside Police identify 5 homcide suspects (pics)

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — Police are seeking five suspects in connection with last week’s restaurant shooting that killed one man and injured two others.

A Sunnyside police spokeswoman said Thursday that detectives still have not determined a motive for the shooting and more suspects could be named as the investigation continues.

The shooting late Friday at Ricos Tacos Guadalajara killed Ramon Magna Mendoza, a 25-year-old Sunnyside man.

Maria Reyes, 42, also of Sunnyside, was taken to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, where authorities reported Monday she was in critical condition. An update on her condition was not available Thursday because the family has asked that no information be released, a Harborview nurse administrator said.

A third victim was treated and released at a local hospital. Police, citing the complexity of the investigation, have not identified him.

Police said they are seeking: Lisandro Rangel, 21; Alfonso Rangel Jr., 27; Ramon Medina Gutierrez, 21; and Juvenal Moreno-Garcia, 25.

The fifth suspect, Tanilo Medina, may go by the alias Guadalupe Fernandez, 26, police said.

All are residents of Sunnyside, police said.

Detectives either have arrest warrants or are in the process of obtaining them for all five suspects, though they believe they have enough probable cause to arrest them without warrants, police spokeswoman Charlotte Hinderlider said.

Some of the suspects have been in trouble with the law before.

Both Rangels were found guilty of a controlled substance violation in 2007 in Yakima County Superior Court.

Medina Gutierrez was charged in 2009 with first-degree robbery. Court records allege that in 2007, Medina Gutierrez and three other men held a victim at gunpoint in a Wapato car sales office to get back Gutierrez’s $5,000 down payment on a vehicle after he changed his mind about the purchase. He is still awaiting trial.

• Ross Courtney can be reached at 509-930-8798 or rcourtney@yakimaherald.com.

• Reporter Melissa Sánchez contributed to this report.


Yakima innocent shooting victim not expected to survive

YAKIMA, Wash. -- They'd heard gunshots in their neighborhood before. But never as loud as what they heard late Tuesday night.

The friends remember talking inside their small rental in the 700 block of North Naches Avenue before it happened.

Kyle Flerchinger, a 20-year-old from Idaho, stepped outside for a smoke. His girlfriend followed. Then came the gunfire.

"You never think something like this is going to happen so close, to somebody you know, especially in your backyard," said Joyce Speaks, who rents the small house with a neat, fenced-in backyard.

A bullet that strayed from a shooting a block away hit the back of Flerchinger's neck. Authorities don't expect him to survive.

Flerchinger remained on life support Wednesday evening at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. His mother flew in from Idaho to be with him. His friends are saying their good-byes at the hospital, Speaks said.

If he dies, he'll become the ninth homicide victim in Yakima County this year, the sixth within Yakima city limits. Two of the victims were considered unintended targets.

No arrests have been made in Tuesday's shooting.

Another man, identified by police as 21-year-old Arturo Galvez, was shot near the intersection of Sixth and G streets, where the confrontation occurred.

Yakima police Lt. Mike Merryman said Galvez, who may have gang ties, suffered at least two gunshot wounds in his back. Galvez was flown Tuesday night to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and is expected to survive.

Flerchinger's friends say he and his girlfriend, Amanda Pennington, had been crashing for the past two months with Speaks and her family.

Speaks rents the home with her fiancé and four young children.

Flerchinger met his girlfriend three years ago through JobCorps. They had been living, until recently, in Orofino, Idaho, with his mother. The couple was in Yakima visiting Pennington's family and planned to return to Idaho in May.

"He was a really good kid, became a really good friend," Speaks said. "He was good with my kids."

Detectives are still investigating the shooting. Initial reports from Galvez's brother indicate that his sibling was confronted by someone whom he described as a gang member.

Flerchinger isn't the city's first innocent shooting victim. In the past month or so, authorities say, two other men were shot dead by bullets intended for somebody else.

On Feb. 27, James Kilby, 29, of Union Gap died at a local hospital after he was shot in a car outside a Yakima grocery store. Authorities believe a friend who had called Kilby for a ride home was the intended target.

A week later, David R. Duarte, 40, of Yakima was shot dead while riding in his nephew's car. Police say Duarte was not involved in gangs but his nephew belongs to one.

In October, just a few blocks from where Tuesday's shooting happened, another man was shot to death during a Halloween party. Authorities say Jason Baldoz, 34, was not a gang member, but the shooter is.

Arrests have been made in all three of those cases.

The tally of innocent people wounded in Yakima shootings in the past year includes: a 20-year-old farm
worker who made the mis-take of wearing red clothing; a 62-year-old man selling ice
cream bars from his bicycle cart; a 23-year-old Michigan woman sitting on a porch; and a 13-year-old girl doing homework in her bedroom.

* Melissa Sánchez can be reached at 509-577-7675 or msanchez@yakimaherald.com.


Yakima- innocent shooting victim from Idaho dies

YAKIMA, Wash. — The Idaho man who was struck by a stray bullet Tuesday night in Yakima died early this morning after being taken off life support.

Yakima County Coroner Jack Hawkins said an autopsy on Kyle Flerchinger’s body may be scheduled as early as this afternoon. Several of his organs were able to be recovered for donation, Hawkins said.

Flerchinger, 20, becomes the ninth homicide victim in Yakima Couinty this yaar and the second innocent person to be shot and killed.

He had been at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital since Tuesday night when he was hit by gunfire while smoking a cigarette. He was standing in the backyard of a home where he had been staying, in the 700 block of North Naches Avenue.

Police say a single bullet hit Flerchinger in the back of the neck from about a block away, near the intersection of Sixth and G Streets.

The gunfire may have been gang-related. Police said the bullet was intended for a 21-year-old man, who was hit at least twice in the back. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but he is expected to recover, police say.

Police are still investigating. Detectives have not announced any arrests or released any suspect information.

— Mark Morey


31 faces charges in multi-state meth ring

LOS ANGELES -- Federal authorities said 31 people faced drug charges in a crackdown Thursday targeting a large-scale ring that funneled methamphetamine from Mexico to California and Washington using fake vehicle batteries.

The suspected ringleader, Jesus Marquez-Marquez, was believed to be in the Mexican state of Michoacan and has not yet been arrested, authorities said.

Marquez-Marquez, also known as Don Chuy, allegedly ran the drug ring that stored the drug in Tijuana before it was moved across the U.S.-Mexico border via hidden compartments and bogus car batteries.

Marquez-Marquez is accused in a federal complaint of having a number of distribution cells in California's Central Valley, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and in Washington.

The ring is believed to have brought more than 200 pounds of meth into Southern California each month.

About 90 pounds of meth worth more than $5 million was seized Thursday as well as 8 kilograms of cocaine. Ten people were arrested, and others were being sought.

Two Othello men are named in the indictment but have not yet been arrested: David Silva Benavides, also known as "Prieto," 28, who led a Don Chuy distribution cell in Washington, and Jose Luis Mata-Garcia, who is in his late 30s.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sunnyside- victims in fatal shooting named

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — Authorities on Monday identified two of the victims of a weekend shooting in a Sunnyside restaurant that left one person dead and two wounded.

Ramon Magna Mendoza, a 25-year-old Sunnyside area resident, died of multiple gunshot wounds to the torso in the Friday night shooting, based on an autopsy Monday afternoon, said Jack Hawkins, Yakima County coroner.

Meanwhile, Maria Reyes, 42, of Sunnyside, is in critical condition in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Hawkins said.

A third victim, a man, was treated and released at a local hospital. His identity has not been released pending notification of family members and because of the nature of the investigation, said Charlotte Hinderlider, a Sunnyside police spokeswoman.

The shooting occurred about 10:45 p.m. Friday at Ricos Tacos Guadalajara on Yakima Valley Highway.

Hawkins said he used fingerprints and conversations with relatives in Mexico and California to identify Mendoza, who was found with no identification. Family members are on their way to Yakima, Hawkins said.

Reyes may be a relative of Mendoza’s girlfriend, Hawkins said.

Meanwhile, Sunnyside police detectives have multiple suspects in the investigation, according to a news release Monday by Hinderlider.

On Saturday, detectives found one suspect vehicle, a white Chevrolet Malibu, while it was burning north of Sunnyside, the release said.

The Washington State Patrol Crime Lab Response Team and Washington State Patrol detectives have been asked to assist in the investigation.

Restaurant owner Francisco Hernandez said he doesn’t know what will happen next with his business.

He spent Monday moving furniture and equipment from the bright red-colored restaurant into a rented trailer.

“I’m really not sure right now,” Hernandez said. “We’ve never had any problems here before, nothing like this that happened.”

• Reporter Melissa Sánchez contributed to this report.

• Ross Courtney can be reached at 509-930-8798 or rcourtney@yakimaherald.com.


Yakima City Council targets gangs

YAKIMA, Wash. — Gang houses and other problem properties could face stiff fines and extra scrutiny from police under a proposal being considered by the Yakima City Council.

The council held a study session Tuesday morning to consider how to deal with chronic nuisance properties. Members agreed to hold a public hearing soon to gather comments.

City Attorney Jeff Cutter presented the council with a draft ordinance modeled after one recently approved in Seattle.

Although much of the discussion focused on the proposed law’s application to gangs, Cutter said the standards could be applied to other locations “that are magnets for criminal activity or at least involve a lot of response from the police department.”

Nuisance properties would be defined as locations that yield three or more serious police calls within a two-month period or at least seven within a year.

Nuisance activity would be defined as violent crimes, drive-by shootings, prostitution and drug activity, among other examples.

The proposal would cover some of the same ground as legislation put forward this year by state Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima. That measure failed to make it through the Senate over concerns about possible racial profiling and questions about whether parents would be unfairly forced out of their homes because of their children’s activity.

As originally introduced, House Bill 2414 would have classified criminal gang activity as a nuisance and provided a process for neighbors, a public agency or anyone within a one-block radius of a known gang hangout to file legal action to stop the activity.

The American Civil Liberties Union has also expressed concern about whether the Seattle ordinance is too broad, according to a memo from Cutter to the council.

City officials said the proposed ordinance would focus on calls or activity committed at a particular address, rather than criminal activity by residents there.

Police have already identified more than a dozen properties that may qualify for extra enforcement because of gang problems.

But deputy chief Kelly Rosenow and other city staff emphasized that the ordinance would have to be carefully managed and would require significant staff time.

“It’s going to take a lot of work on our part, but we also know we have to do something to take back our neighborhoods,” Rosenow told the council.

Direct expenses would be limited to mostly title searches, about $350 apiece, to verify ownership of a targeted property and mailing of notices.

Property owners would have 30 days to begin fixing issues identified by police — cleaning up the site or evicting tenants, for example — or they could be fined $500 a day. If the case made it to court, they could face a fine up to $25,000.

If the targeted location is a business, the ordinance allows the city to withdraw a business license or decline to renew it.

The council voted 7-0 to move the matter to a public hearing, with a vote on whether to approve the ordinance expected to follow. The date for the hearing has not been set.

Councilwoman Maureen Adkison said Yakima’s work on a nuisance ordinance may help push the Legislature to approve a similar statewide law.

“I think this shows that the city of Yakima is not going to roll over, that we are willing to do something on our own,” she said.

• Mark Morey can be reached at 509-577-7671 or mmorey@yakimaherald.com.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Kennewick police seek shooting suspect

Kennewick police are searching for suspects after a man was injured in a shooting Sunday.

The victim, who's name or age were not immediately released, was shot in the chest, said Cpl. Joe Jackson. He was being treated as of 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

The shooting apparently occurred at Fourth Avenue and Vancouver Street just before 6:30 p.m., Jackson said.

Kennewick police learned of the shooting after the victim arrived at Kennewick General Hospital. He reportedly was driven there by friends.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunnyside- I dead in triple shooting

Last Friday at approximately 10:45 p.m. Sunnyside police rushed to the scene of a reported shooting at 809 Yakima Valley Highway, also known as the site of Rico's Tacos.

Officers arrived at the site to find three victims had been struck by gunfire, one of them, a male, was deceased on arrival.

A female victim was found shot multiple times and was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Another adult male was treated for gunshot wounds at Sunnyside Community Hospital and released.

An autopsy of the deceased victim is scheduled for today (Monday) and additional victim information has not yet been released by authorities.

The Sunnyside Police Department is being assisted by the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab Response Team and detectives from the Washington State Patrol in investigating the incident.

It is believed multiple suspects were involved, but information regarding the suspects is being held from the public.

A suspect vehicle described as a white Chevrolet Malibu, said Sunnyside police, was recovered north of Sunnyside Saturday. It is believed it was in the process of being destroyed as it was found burning.

Anyone with information involving this case is asked to call the Sunnyside Police Department at 509-836-6200.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

2 Sunnyside shootings

On March 23, a shooting occurred on McClain Dr in Sunnyside.

On March 21, an assault with a firearm occurred on the 1000 block of Tacoma Ave in Sunnyside.

Wapato- 2 arrested after shooting at car

WAPATO, Wash. -- A man and a woman were arrested Monday evening in connection with a report that shots were fired at a vehicle in the Wapato area, authorities said.

Wapato police and Yakima County sheriff's deputies were sent about 7:20 p.m. to the area of U.S. Highway 97 and Jones Road because someone in one vehicle was shooting at another, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

The suspect vehicle, a Volkswagen Jetta, was found on Sixth Street in Yakima.

The occupants claimed they opened fire because they were being threatened.

The other vehicle was not located. No injuries were reported.

The woman was arrested on suspicion of reckless endangerment; the man was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Yakima- dumb surenos shoot farm worker for wearing red

YAKIMA, WASH. -- A 20-year-old Yakima man faces specialized surgery to remove the bullet lodged in his neck from a Sunday evening shooting that apparently was prompted by his red clothing, police said Monday.

Initial reports suggested that the man, who described himself as a farm worker, was not a gang member. Detectives said they had not developed any information to contradict his report, but the investigation was going slowly due to a lack of information about possible suspects.

The man told police that a blue van pulled alongside his vehicle at a stop sign at Seventh and Adams streets. The van's passenger fired one roundjavascript:void(0), which hit him in the left shoulder.

The man drove himself to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

Police said the man was expected to recover, but has been transferred to an unspecified medical facility for specialized surgery. Because of the bullet's sensitive location, doctors wanted to make sure they did not do more damage taking it out, Yakima police Sgt. Tony Bennett said.

The incident was the latest of several shootings involving apparently innocent victims since last summer, when gang-related shootings spiked in the Yakima Valley.

Last July, a stray shot from a gang fight struck the leg of a 23-year-old woman visiting from Lansing, Mich.

That shooting came just six days after a 13-year-old girl who lived two blocks down the same street in north-central Yakima was seriously injured when shots were fired into her Roosevelt Avenue home. Police said her family had no known gang connections.

Neither of those incidents were fatal, but in 2005 a shooting reportedly inspired by a red sweatshirt claimed the life of 21-year-old Octavio Abundiz Jr. in Yakima.

Friends said he was not a gang member. He worked as a cook and dreamed of a career in law enforcement, they said.

Bennett said residents should not be overly concerned about wearing red or blue clothing, noting that he often wears such shirts. But he said the incident highlights the need for parents to stay aware of what their children are wearing and who they are associating with.

Gang clothing generally involves multiple elements beyond the shirt, including certain types of pants, belts, shoes and shoelaces.

* Mark Morey can be reached at 509-577-7671 or mmorey@yakimaherald.com.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sunnyside area- six weekend shootings

Six weapons offenses reported to deputies

Since last Friday, the Yakima County Sheriff's Office has been alerted to six weapons incidents.

Just after 3 p.m. Friday a resident in the 900 block of Rouse Road near Sunnyside reported hearing a gunshot. An area check was requested.

A resident in the 1000 block of Alexander Road Ext. near Grandview just before 4 p.m. last Friday told deputies his neighbor was shooting a gun at his property.

Gunfire was reported on SLI Road near Sunnyside at approximately 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The subjects were witnessed driving back and forth on the roadway, shooting from the vehicle.

Just after 4 p.m. that day a resident in the 1700 block of Bus Road near Mabton reported his cat was shot on his property.

Shots were fired at and struck a vehicle in the 200 block of Third Avenue in Mabton just after 2 p.m. yesterday (Sunday). The property owner phoned deputies from work after her husband told her about the incident.

A drive-by was reported at approximately 1 p.m. in the 600 block of Monroe Street in Mabton yesterday. The homeowner did not see the vehicle as it drove by, but one bullet went through a window to the home. Deputies were unable to discover further information that might lead to suspects in the incident.

Also since last Friday Lower Valley residents have called deputies to report two burglaries, two domestic violence situations and four suspicious situations.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Sunnyside shootings

On March 19 on the 900 block of Rouse Rd in Sunnside shots were reported at 3pm to the YSO.

On March 14 shots were reported on the 400 block of Skyline Dr in Sunnyside.

On March 11 shots were reported on the 1700 block of Cascade Way, again.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sunnyside- 16 y.o. shot in drive-by

SUNNYSIDE -- A 16-year-old boy was shot in the back Wednesday evening during a drive-by shooting outside his home in the 1600 block of Braden Road, authorities said

The wound was not life-threatening, and the boy was expected to be released Wednesday night from Sunnyside Community Hospital, said Sgt. John Durand of the Yakima County Sheriff's Office.

The victim, an admitted gang member, stepped outside his house about 6 p.m. and was shot by someone who exited a white Nissan, Durand said.

The Nissan and a silver Volkswagen, possibly a Jetta, then left the area.

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


Two Mattawa men arrested for Ephrata homicide

EPHRATA, Wash. -- Two suspects face murder charges in connection with the March 7 shooting of a 17-year-old boy in southern Grant County.

Mattawa police arrested the pair Wednesday during a traffic stop in Mattawa, the Grant County Sheriff's Office reported. They were expected to make their first court appearance today.

Luis A. Mejia Nunez, 20, of Mattawa and a 15-year old Mattawa boy are charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.

They are accused of being among several occupants in a car from which the shots were fired.

The fatally shot victim, 17-year-old Carlos Leyva, and two companions were walking on a county road between Beverly and Schawana when the suspect vehicle passed by, sheriff's officials said. The occupants made hand signals toward Leyva's group before turning the car around and opening fire.

One of the boys was wounded; the other was able to run away, authorities said.

-- Mark Morey

Yakima- three arrested in task force raid

YAKIMA — Three people were arrested on drug-related charges Thursday when drug agents raided a home in the 5300 block of West Washington Avenue, authorities said.

Neighbors had complained that the house attracted heavy vehicle traffic — a common sign of drug activity — which had increased over the past year, according to Law Enforcement Against Drugs, the Yakima Valley drug task force that investigated the case.

A task force supervisor said customers came to the home primarily to buy cocaine, although marijuana and prescription drugs were also found when officers served a search warrant Thursday afternoon.

Two men and a woman were taken into custody. They are expected to face a variety of drug charges, including maintaining a drug house, the task force supervisor said.

More arrests may be made as the investigation continues, he said.

— Mark Morey


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Toppenish drive by shooting

In Toppenish on March 16 on the 800 block of E Toppenish Ave a drive by shooting occurred. No one is believed to be injured.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunnyside- man shot in weekend shooting

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- A 22-year-old Sunnyside man suffered a gunshot wound late Saturday during an exchange of gunfire in a residential area, police said Monday morning.

The victim is identified as Gilberto Garcia Ramos, who suffered a gunshot wound to the upper torso.

He was taken to Sunnyside Community Hospital for treatment and was discharged Monday afternoon.

The other participant in the shooting has not been identified.

Police ultimately executed a search warrant at a North Fourth Street residence near where the shooting occurred, confiscating 74 ounces of marijuana, scales and a loaded shotgun.

City officials also condemned the house for a variety of code violations.

Police spokeswoman Charlotte Hinderlider said police are still investigating and aren't sure whether the shooting was gang-related.

Two people were detained. One, a 31-year-old Sunnyside man, for unrelated warrants. The second man, a 27-year-old Sunnyside resident, is being held for investigation of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm, and possession of marijuana.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Sunnyside Police Department at 509-837-6200.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Yakima- third man arrested in fatal shooting

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Two men were arrested Wednesday as police continued their investigation into a fatal weekend shooting in Yakima.

One of those arrested, a 22-year-old man, is suspected of being the driver of the car that opened fire on a second vehicle last Saturday. During a preliminary court appearance Thursday, his bail was set at $2 million.

Police said they stopped him while he was driving near Sixth Street and Nob Hill Boulevard and later recovered a white Cadillac linked to the shooting. It was found under a cover in the backyard of a home in the 1200 block of West Washington Avenue, police said.

Police also arrested a 34-year-old man after searching his Tampico home, where they say they recovered a gun used in Saturday's killing. He was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, as well as possessing drugs, including about two pounds of marijuana.
His bail was set at $25,000.

Police earlier arrested 24-year-old Tomas Villegas, who they suspect was the gunman. He was arrested Tuesday afternoon and is being held on $2 million bail.

The arrests stem from the death of 40-year-old David R. Duarte of Selah. Duarte was riding with his nephew when he was shot multiple times near 16th and Washington avenues.

Duarte was apparently not involved with a gang. His nephew, who police call a gang member, was the intended target.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yakima- homcide suspect surrenders after standoff

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Three days after a man was fatally shot while riding in his nephew's car in Yakima, authorities arrested the person they believe pulled the trigger.

The 24-year-old Yakima man surrendered Tuesday afternoon at a duplex in the 600 block of West Logan Avenue after a 30-minute standoff, Yakima police Lt. Mike Merryman said.

He is the primary suspect in Saturday's fatal shooting of David R. Duarte, 40, of Yakima. Police have not released the suspect's name, but Yakima County jail records show Tomas
Villegas was booked Tuesday on a first-degree murder charge.

"It went off without a hitch," said Merryman, as SWAT officers cleared the scene Tuesday afternoon. "We were sitting on this for a while. We wanted to wait until school got out and there weren't any kids in the street."

The duplex sits across South Sixth Avenue from Hoover Elementary School.

Duarte was riding in his 16-year-old nephew's car shortly before midnight Saturday near 16th and Washington avenues when a large white vehicle pulled up alongside them, authorities said. Somebody inside fired several shots, hitting Duarte in the head and chest.

The nephew, who has not been identified, pulled into a nearby parking lot and called police. Duarte was dead by the time officers arrived.

He was the sixth homicide victim in Yakima County this year and the fourth in the city of Yakima. Arrests have been made in all four Yakima homicides.

After Tuesday's arrest -- and as officers served a search warrant on the second duplex unit -- several dozen neighbors gathered in small groups around the yellow caution tape to talk about the Yakima Valley's gang problem.

Authorities have said Duarte was probably not involved in gangs, but his nephew is.

"I don't know what they're going to do about all this garbage," said Deryl Woody, who has lived for 40 years in a house around the block from the scene of Tuesday's arrest.

“Maybe (the city) ought to stop worrying about the public art and brick sidewalks and start taking care of this (s---) that’s going on. There’s priorities, and there’s priorities.”

• Melissa Sánchez can be reached at 509-577-7675 or msanchez@yakimaherald.com.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Mattawa- 1 killed, 1 injured in drive-by

MATTAWA, Wash. — Authorities are investigating a drive-by shooting Sunday evening just north of here that left one teenager dead and another wounded.

Details are still sketchy and witnesses have been uncooperative, Grant County Undersheriff John Turley wrote in a news release issued today. It is unknown whether the shooting was gang-related, random or a retaliatory incident.

What authorities do know is this: Sometime about 6:20 p.m., somebody fired shots in the 17000 block of Road T.5 SW in Beverly, about five miles north of Mattawa.

One bullet killed 17-year-old Carlos D. Leyva of Beverly. A second 17-year-old male was shot in the ankle and taken to Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake. He has been treated and released. A third teenager escaped uninjured.

— Melissa Sánchez


Suspect identified in deputy shooting

YAKIMA, Wash. — Authorities today identified a suspect in Saturday’s drive-by shooting at a Yakima County Sheriff’s deputy.

An arrest warrant for Pedro Godinez-Jiminez, 21, of Toppenish, was issued today by a Yakima County Superior Court judge. The warrant is sealed.

He is Hispanic, about 5 feet, 6 inches and 170 pounds.

Authorities say a Yakima County Sheriff’s deputy was fired upon more than a dozen times by people in a suspicious car outside Toppenish early Saturday morning.

The deputy, whose name has not been released, was not hurt.

It happened about 12:15 a.m. Saturday in the area of the Willowtree Trailer Park, authorities said.

When the deputy attempted to stop a suspicious 2001 Chevy Malibu that was prowling the neighborhood, two of its occupants leaned out of car and shot at him, authorities said.

The deputy avoided being struck and was unable to get a shot off.

About 45 minutes later, the car was found in flames outside Harrah.

Anyone with information on Godines-Jiminez’ location should call the sheriff’s office at 509-574-2500.

- Melissa Sánchez


Wanted Grandview man caught after chase

GRANDVIEW, Wash. — Police arrested a 24-year-old Grandview man with five outstanding warrants after he allegedly led them on a vehicle and foot chase in and around town this weekend.

It was unclear how the pursuit first started, assistant police chief Mark Ware said, but Benton County Sheriff’s deputies chased the man into Grandview, where he reached speeds up to 90 mph. He lost control and crashed his vehicle into a telephone pole at the corner of Elm and Second streets, police said.

Officers chased him a block or two on foot, then lost him for a little while, but with the help of a K9 unit found him hiding in a backyard in the 600 block of East Second Street, Ware said.

Officers later determined the man had five arrest warrants, including one issued by the U.S. Marshal’s office, police said.

In addition to the warrants, Grandview police had been looking for him just a few minutes before the chase for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, then stealing her cellular phone and car, the one that was crashed during the pursuit, Ware said.

Police also found several grams of marijuana inside the vehicle, police said.

The man was taken to the Yakima County Jail today, where he could face charges of robbery, theft, felony assault, attempting to elude a police vehicle and a variety of misdemeanors, including driving under the influence and hit and run, police said.

-- Ross Courtney


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Yakima - another homicide

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Another man was shot dead Saturday night, becoming Yakima County's third homicide victim in eight days.

David R. Duarte, 40, was shot in the head and chest about 11:55 p.m. while riding in a car near 16th and Washington avenues, Yakima police said.

No arrests have been made.

The Yakima man was a passenger in a car driven by his 16-year-old nephew on South 16th Avenue near Spokane Street when a large, white vehicle pulled up next to them, Capt. Greg Copeland wrote in a news release. Someone inside fired several shots, hitting Duarte twice.

The nephew, who was not identified, drove a short distance to South 15th and West Mead avenues, pulled into a parking lot and called police. When officers arrived, Duarte was dead.

Police don't believe Duarte was involved in gang activity but said his nephew is a gang member. Authorities said the shooter is most likely is a gang member.

Last weekend, two other men were fatally shot in separate, apparently unrelated incidents.

James Kilby, 29, of Yakima, was shot Feb. 27 while sitting in a car outside a Yakima supermarket. He later died at an area hospital and police have arrested two Seattle-area men on first-degree murder charges.

Also that night, Manuel Angel Garcia, 28, of Wapato was shot in the head from a drive-by bullet while sitting inside a friend's Wapato home. He died three days later at an area hospital. No arrests have been made.

An autopsy on Duarte will be conducted today, said Marshall Slight, Yakima County's deputy coroner.

Six homicides have been recorded in Yakima County this year, including four in the city of Yakima.

Toppenish: Shots fired at Yakima Sheriff's deputy

Authorities are on high alert after a deputy was fired upon more than a dozen times by people in a suspicious car outside Toppenish early Saturday.

“We’ll see if we can round these guys up,” said Yakima County Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Udell.

It happened about 12:15 a.m. in the 200 block of Willowtree Lane, where the deputy attempted to stop a suspicious car, a 2001 Chevy Malibu, prowling the neighborhood.

But the slow-moving car wouldn’t stop. Instead, two occupants extended their upper bodies outside opposite sides of the car and fired multiple shots at the deputy, who was not injured.

The deputy, whose name is not being released at this time, quickly turned his patrol car, which also avoided being struck, to one side of the narrow, bumpy road and high-centered in a nearby field. Meanwhile, the car fled West on McDonald Road with the occupants still firing shots. The deputy was unable to get a shot off, Udell said.

About 45 minutes later, the suspect car was found in flames on Harrah Road, South of Fort Road, Udell said.

“(The suspects) knew they put themselves in a spot and burned it,” he said. “We’re looking into ownership of the car and who was driving it. I can tell you we are working some leads, but haven’t made an arrest yet.”

It was the third time in nine months that a deputy has been fired upon in Yakima County.

Last July, a deputy was shot in the leg in Outlook by gang members who targeted him and a fellow deputy.

And in December, a deputy was fired upon by two men suspected of attempting to steal a snow blower and fleeing west on Tieton Drive in a pickup.

One of the men in the pickup began firing at the deputy, who was not injured.

It’s a trend that has authorities concerned.

“It’s getting kind of wild,” Udell said. “You know, when they start shooting at the cops like this, it’s getting to be anything goes with them.”

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

• Phil Ferolito can be reached at 509-577-7749 or pferolito@yakimaherald.com.


Yakima- man confuses soccer players with gang members, opens fire

YAKIMA, Wash. — A man opened fire on a group of youngsters playing soccer Thursday night after asking if they were gang members, city police say.

The 13 children took off running, and a police report did not indicate any of them were hurt.

The 41-year-old suspect — who witnesses described as holding a beer and wearing a white beanie, with three dogs trailing behind him — was arrested nearby, according to the report.

He was booked into the Yakima County jail on suspicion of 13 counts of first-degree assault and was expected to make his first court appearance this afternoon.

Several officers responded about 9:30 p.m. to an area around the 400 block of East Spruce after several callers reported the shooting.

The victims told police they were playing soccer at the Union Gospel Youth Center when the man approached and asked whether they were gang members.

The youngsters said they were not, but the man pulled a gun, pointed it at them and fired six shots, the police report stated.

Officers found the man walking southbound on South Third Street at East Maple. The three dogs were still with him.

Five .38-caliber bullets were found on the suspect, but the gun was not recovered, police said.

— Mark Morey


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Yakima- murder charges filed against two suspects

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The two men accused in Saturday night's fatal shooting outside a Yakima supermarket were formally charged with murder Thursday in Yakima County Superior Court.

Jordan Dior Daisy, 21, of Seattle, and Ezra William Swann, 23, of Tukwila, Wash., were charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and first-degree assault.

They are accused in the death of James Kilby, 27, of Union Gap, who was shot in the chest while sitting in a parked car outside Wray's supermarket at Third Avenue and Nob Hill Boulevard.

Authorities said a friend who had called Kilby to give him a ride was apparently the intended target of the attack.

Yakima police arrested Daisy and Swann on Tuesday in Seattle after tracing a phone number to the home of Daisy's mother.

Both men are being held in the Yakima County jail on $2 million bail.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wapato shooting victim dies

YAKIMA, Wash. — A Wapato man shot in the head Saturday night succumbed to his injuries today.

Manuel Angel Garcia, 28, died about 11 a.m. at Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center, where he had been treated since the shooting at a home in the 4500 block of North Track Road, Yakima County Coroner Jack Hawkins said.

Garcia had not been expected to survive the gunshot wound.

He becomes the fourth reported homicide victim of the year in the county.

Garcia was visiting when someone fired multiple rounds at the home. Numerous shootings have been reported in that area, including the 2008 death of a 16-year-old boy who lived at the home Garcia was visiting.

Yakima County sheriff’s detectives, who are handling the case for Wapato police, have not reported any major developments in the case.

A Union Gap man was also fatally shot Saturday night in Yakima.

Yakima police on Tuesday announced the arrest of two Seattle men in connection with 27-year-old James Kilby’s death.

A friend who had called for Kilby to give him a ride was apparently the intended target of the attack, which may have stemmed from a dispute over an informal rap contest, police say. The friend ran into a grocery store and was not seriously hurt.

- Mark Morey


Sunnyside- 4 weekend shootings, 1 man shot

In addition to the five people shot around the valley this past weekend, four shootings occurred in the Sunnyside area.
On Thursday at approximately 7:30pm, a caller reported someone standing in the middle of the street on the 600 block of N 4th street, firing four to five shots.
At 9pm Friday, 12 shots were reported at Midvale and Green Valley.
On Saturday, an Outlook man reported being shot in the back to police, and was able to give a description of the vehicle to police.
At 10pm on Sunday, shots were reported on the 1900 block of Maple Grove.
YAKIMA, Wash. — Two suspects were arrested Monday in Seattle in connection with a weekend homicide in Yakima.

Police say the primary suspect in the shooting death of James Kilby of Union Gap is a 21-year-old Seattle man.

He and the second suspect, a 23-year-old Seattle man, were arrested after Yakima detectives went to Seattle to watch his house.

The pair arrived there about 1 p.m. Monday in the same vehicle in which they are believed to have fled the shooting scene at the Wray’s grocery store on Third Avenue.

Detectives had tracked down the suspects based on telephone information, Yakima police Lt. Mike Merryman said without elaborating.

Kilby was fatally shot Saturday night after the suspects pinned in his vehicle as his passenger fled into the store, investigators say.

The 19-year-old passenger had called Kilby, who was his roommate, to pick him up after a dispute developed between him and the homicide suspects at a house near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Nob Hill Boulevard.

The passenger was assaulted at that location, possibly in connection with a dispute over an informal rap music contest, police say.

“It’s becoming more and more apparent the driver of the car was simply there to pick up his friend — didn’t know what was going on,” Yakima police Lt. Mike Merryman said.

Previous reports have indicated that Kilby was a Kitsap County resident, but Merryman said he was most recently living in Union Gap. He had family ties across the state.

The suspects were booked into the King County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. They are expected to be returned soon to face the charges in Yakima County.

Merryman said detectives are still trying to identify and locate a third person who may have been involved in assaulting Kilby’s roommate.

Police said they waited to announce the arrests until this morning because detectives did not conclude their work in Seattle and return to Yakima until late Monday.

— Mark Morey


Yakima PD gang intervention coordinator promoted

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The Yakima Police Department's gang intervention coordinator was promoted on Monday to the rank of sergeant.

Office David Cortez replaces Sgt. Scott Levno, who retired after 20 years with the force. Cortez joined the department in 1993, and spent six years on patrol, five years in investigations and three years with the gang unit.

For the past three years, he has been coordinating the department's Gang Resistance Education and Training program, and often gives speeches and holds parenting classes related to youth violence.


Yakima Valley- Violent Weekend's aftermath.

A Wapato man is not expected to survive a weekend shooting, Yakima County sheriff's detectives said Monday as they continued to investigate the case.

Meanwhile, Yakima police were trying to identify suspects in another shooting that killed a Kitsap County man on Saturday night, and Toppenish police said they were seeking a known suspect in the third of five shootings reported across the county over the weekend.

The Wapato man -- identified as 28-year-old Manuel Angel Garcia -- remained at Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center in critical condition, said Stew Graham, chief of detectives for the sheriff's office. Numerous relatives have gathered to be with him at the hospital, but his prognosis is not good, authorities said.

Graham said he had no major updates to release as detectives continued to work the case.
Garcia was visiting a home in the 4500 block of North Track Road in Wapato when he was hit by one of several rounds fired at the house. Multiple shootings have been reported at and around the home, including a 2008 incident that killed a 16-year-old boy who lived there.

Meanwhile, Yakima police said a dispute that stemmed from an informal rap contest apparently played a role in the shooting that killed 29-year-old James Kilby on Saturday night.

The contests, known as freestyle battles, involve contestants exchanging sometimes-insulting lyrics in a spontaneous test of their rapping skills.

Yakima police Lt. Mike Merryman said a passenger with Kilby had reportedly been beaten by several people affiliated with the contest after a disagreement.

The passenger reportedly told Kilby to leave a home in the area of Fifth Avenue and Nob Hill Boulevard, where the beating took place. The shooter followed the car to the Wray's Food and Drug at Third Avenue, blocked it in and then
fired into the car. The passenger, apparently the intended target, had already run into the store, where officers found him.

In Toppenish, police said they were seeking charges of attempted first-degree murder against Ricardo D. Ruiz, 20, of Toppenish. Ruiz remains at large.

The victim told officers he was driving in the 500 block of East Toppenish Avenue when the driver of a blue van got out and began shooting, authorities said. The victim was struck once in the torso as he attempted to drive off.

He drove himself to Toppenish Community Hospital for treatment, police said.

Yakima police also investigated two injury shootings Saturday and Sunday. Two teenagers received noncritical injuries in a driveby shooting, and a man shot a domestic-violence suspect in order to force him to stop attacking his ex-girlfriend.

On Monday, the man was booked into Yakima County Jail on a multiple pending charges, including attempted murder.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Violent Night in the Yakima Valley

YAKIMA--The fatal shooting in the parking lot of Wray's Thriftway was just one of four violent crimes in the Yakima Valley Saturday night.

A 28-year-old Wapato man is on life support after being shot in the head, and two teenage girls were also shooting victims. One of them is six months pregnant.

The gunfire all across the valley has police departments stretched thin and residents worried.

One night. Four crime scenes and so far, no arrests.

Gunfire was heard from Toppenish to Wapato to Yakima.

Police had their hands full nearly all night.

"Our resources get spread pretty thin, Sgt. Tim Bardwell, Yakima Police Department, said. "We rely on other units, the detective unit, our proactive unit, our gang unit to supplement and fill in."

At about 9:00 p.m. Saturday, Wapato police were called to the 4500 block of North Track Road regarding a drive by shooting.

A release from the Yakima County Sheriff's Office said 28-year-old Manuel Angel Garcia of Wapato was inside a house on the block when a bullet came through the front of the building and hit him in the head.

Garcia was taken to a local hospital, where he is in stable but critical condition as of 6:20 p.m. Sunday. Due to the severity of his injuries, the Wapato Police Department turned the case over to the Sheriff's Office.

Deputies say Garcia did not live at the targeted house.

After a night like this, valley police departments must rely on each other.

"We're going to look at those [different shootings] and say, 'Are those similar in description to what occurred in our jurisdiction?'" Bardwell said.

So far, police haven't found any clear connections.

Neighbors told KNDO they're fed up with the violence.

"Nothing really gets done on the street," Kris Clemmons of Yakima said. "[Police] put a lot more cruisers around and they patrol more, but.."

Clemmons lives a block away from the other shooting Yakima police dealt with overnight.

Two Yakima teenagers were injured early Sunday morning while at a home on the 900 block of South 4th Avenue. The girls, ages 18 and 15, told police they were inside a house when they heard gunshots and were struck. The 18-year-old was hit once in the leg, and the 15-year-old was shot once in the buttocks. Officers say the 15-year-old girl is six months pregnant.

Police did not indicate any suspects, but do believe the shooting is gang-related.

Others KNDO spoke with believe stopping this violence starts with the community offering help.

"Wherever you go there's going to be some shootings. As a citizen, you got to help the community, that's what you got to do."

The final shooting--but first chronologically--happened in Toppenish. An adult male was shot in the torso in a drive by shooting one on East Toppenish Avenue.

The victim told police he was sitting in his car at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday when another car pulled up and a man inside fired several rounds at him.

Toppenish police say the suspect is a Hispanic male wearing dark clothes and believe he is anywhere from 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall. The victim's injuries are not expected to be life-threatening.

Two Yakima teenagers were injured early Sunday morning while at a home on the 900 block of South 4th Avenue. The girls, ages 18 and 15, told police they were inside a house when they heard gunshots and were struck. The 18-year-old was hit once in the leg, and the 15-year-old was shot once in the buttocks. Police say the 15-year-old girl was pregnant. Police did not indicate any suspects, but do believe the shooting is gang-related.

As of 6:20 p.m. Sunday, no arrests had been reported in any of these cases. It is not clear if any of the shootings are connected.

If you have any information, please call Yakima Police at 509-575-6200, Toppenish Police at 509-865-4355, or the Yakima County Sheriff's Office at 509-574-2500.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Shooting(s) in Grandview

Grandview police investigating shooting

GRANDVIEW - Grandview police are investigating whether or not a drive-by shooting in the area of Stassen Park and West Fifth Street yesterday morning (Sunday) resulted in injury.

Police raced to the scene at 3 a.m. after witnesses reported hearing shots fired and ultimately found the correct location, which was a home in the 400 block of Avenue E.

While investigating the scene, police fielded a call that a gunshot victim was seeking treatment and claimed to be shot in Grandview.

Grandview Assistant Police Chief Mark Ware said the vehicle used to transport the victim to the hospital matched the description of a vehicle leaving the scene of the shooting.

Police have impounded the car and will obtain a search warrant today to see if the two incidents are related.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Witness descriptions lead to quick arrests in Sunday shooting

YAKIMA, Wash. — Within a half hour of a shooting this evening, authorities arrested the man they think pulled the trigger thanks to good descriptions from several witnesses in a Northeast Yakima neighborhood.

The victim, a 22-year-old male, was shot in the abdomen and leg, said Yakima police Lt. Nolan Wentz. The man was dropped off at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital shortly after a shooting was reported about 5:15 p.m. near North Sixth and H streets.

Officers quickly locked down a house on North Sixth Street after the shooting and arrested two people inside, Wentz said. Off-duty detectives were being called in to conduct interviews.

In months past, residents in this gang-ridden neighborhood have expressed hesitation to call authorities when they hear gunshots out of fear of retaliation. That seems to be changing.

“It’s people starting to get sick of it,” Wentz said. “We’ve got several good witness calls.”

More information on the victim’s condition or the suspect was not immediately available.

— Melissa Sánchez


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sunnyside- shooting on Cascade Way

A shooting was reported near the 1700 Block of Cascade Way on Wednesday, February 18th. No casualties or arrests are known.

Yakima man charged in stabbing death

YAKIMA, Wash. - Authorities today formally charged the 42-year-old man accused in Monday’s fatal stabbing.

Richard Solis, of Yakima, was charged with second-degree murder in Yakima County Superior Court.

He is accused of stabbing 21-year-old Ali Lemus Vargas [an alleged Norteno gang member] multiple times in the head, chest and hands early Monday, authorities said. Lemus Vargas was found about 2:30 a.m. Monday near Pleasant Avenue and West Pierce Street.

Yakima police officers followed a trail of blood that led to a residence in the 1500 block of Seventh Avenue, where they found Solis.

Authorities said an interview with the suspect revealed that an argument between the two led to the stabbing.

Solis is being held on a $500,000 bail in Yakima County Jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 2.

- Melissa Sanchez


Yakima- stupid gangbanger shoots himself

YAKIMA -- Police say they have debunked a man's claim that he was shot by someone in a passing car.

The 29-year-old Yakima man reported early Friday that he suffered a gunshot wound to the upper inside right thigh, according to a news release from the Yakima Police Department.

The man said he was walking about 2:40 a.m. toward the 7-Eleven store at 16th and Summitview avenues when someone in a passing vehicle shot him.

Based on evidence at the scene, police said, investigators questioned the man's account of the incident.

The man's pants did not have a bullet hole, but his boxers did, according to the news release. That led police to determine that the man was wounded when the gun discharged while in his waistband.

No charges are being sought against the man, who claimed to be affiliated with a gang, authorities said.

In April 2008, a 20-year-old man claimed that he had been shot in the groin during a drive-by shooting. Police determined that he shot himself with two loads of buckshot after placing the barrel down his pants.

That man was seriously wounded.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sunnyside- 22 year old shot

Jose Acevedo, 22, of Sunnyside suffered non-life threatening injuries as a result of a bullet hitting his leg in a shooting incident that occurred at approximately 6:40 a.m. this morning (Wednesday) in the 1000 block of South 10th Street, according to Sunnyside police.

Police responded to the call and are still investigating the incident, but were told a van with tinted windows was involved.

Officials said preliminary information provided to them indicates the victim was walking down the street when several shots aimed in his direction were fired from the van.

Acevedo was treated and released from Sunnyside Community Hospital this morning.

Witness statements, as well as a victim's statement, were still being taken as of press time.

Sunnyside Police Department officials said further details will be forthcoming, but anyone with information that might lead to a suspect, suspect vehicle or other information regarding the incident is asked to call 836-6200.

In other news, an apartment manager told the Daily Sun News last Saturday morning's shooting incident resulted in bullets striking two apartment units at the Meadow Apartments in the 1400 block of South Sixth Street just after 1:30 a.m.

The apartment manager said one bullet traveled through a window and two walls before stopping in a second apartment.

Two bullets, he shared, struck the complex, and one of the apartments struck was occupied by a mother and her young child.

The apartment manager plans to speak with police regarding the incident, and he said the problem is ongoing, involving suspects with whom the police have had prior contact.

The Sunnyside Police Department is still investigating the Saturday incident and officials said concerns regarding the incident will be addressed at the conclusion of the investigation.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grandview house shot at

Just after 3 p.m. yesterday (Monday) a woman living in the 1600 block of Apricot Road near Grandview called the Yakima County Sheriff's Office stating she found a bullet hole in her bedroom. The hole led her to discover the bullet had traversed through the room. Further inspection led to the discovery of another bullet hole outside her home.

The woman told deputies she did not know when the bullets had been fired at her home.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunnyside- Meadows apartments shot up

This past weekend at the Meadows apartments at the 1400 block of S 6th St in Sunnyside, two shootings were reported early the 13th, one at about 1:30am, and another a couple hours later. The Daily Sun News had initially reported it as shots being fired into the air, but the manager of the apartments told the Daily Sun that two apartments had been hit, one of which had a mother and small child inside.

Also on the 13th, a shooting was reported at S 11th and Tacoma Ave in Sunnyside.

Yakima- blood trail leads to arrest in stabbing death

Yakima police on Monday morning arrested a man they believe is responsible for the stabbing death of a 21-year-old man hours earlier.

Responding to a 2:30 a.m. call about an injured man near Pleasant Avenue and West Pierce Street, police said they found Ali Lemus Vargas in the street with multiple stab wounds to his head, chest and hands.

He was taken to a local hospital, but died a short time later, police said.

While at the scene, officers for several hours followed a trial of blood that led to a residence in the 1500 block of Seventh Avenue, where they found a 42-year-old man with hand injuries believed caused by a knife and a stab wound to his abdomen, police said.

Monday afternoon, two nearby residents said they didn't hear anything going on that morning.

Spray paint in the street marked where Vargas' body was found, and pointed out the trial of blood that ran along Pierce Street to Seventh Avenue.

Police said an interview with the suspect revealed that an argument between the two led to the stabbing.

Police said the suspect was booked into the Yakima County jail Monday on charges of second-degree murder.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sunnsyide shooting

On February 12th, a shooting was reported in Sunnyside at Yakima Valley Highway and N 1st St. No casualties were reported.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Toppenish drive by shooting

TOPPENISH -- A drive-by shooting Wednesday night left several bullet holes in an occupied home in the 700 block of East First Avenue, police say.

The victims said seven people were inside the residence when someone in a passing car opened fire about 8:30 p.m., according to a news release from the Toppenish Police Department.

No injuries were reported.

Neighbors described the suspect vehicle as a blue, four-door 1990s Toyota or Nissan. It was last seen going north on South I Street, police said.

Tips about the case may be reported to the police department at 509-865-4355.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sunnyside- shooting near Snipes Pump

On February 10th, gunshots were reported on the 1800 block of Snipes Pump road, south of Sunnyside. Of course, the Sheriffs didn't find nothin.

Grandview officer details gang activity for concerned citizens

Lynda Jo Staples

GRANDVIEW - Grandview Police Officer Rob Colley identified what community members need to know about gangs to an attentive audience of about 50 residents last night, Tuesday.

Colley tackled the issue of when to begin anti-gang work with children.

For police in schools, the age is fifth grade. "But it should start as soon as they hit first or second grade," he said of parental involvement.

One way police identify gangs is through social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. "If they're going to put it up there, we're going to use it," he said.

Colley said gang members are beginning to understand the police department makes note of self-proclaimed gang members for tracking purposes and that courts have determined the hand signs as gang activity. For that reason, he said, they will black out their hand signals in social network photos.

Colley took a moment to explain graffiti to the crowd, and noted some of what people see about town is not done by typical gang members, but by newer gangs that are sprouting up, some of which are comprised of kids who have no criminal history.

Colley said if a person can be identified on graffiti through a moniker, "We can go after them and prosecute them."

Graffiti left unchanged or unmarked re-affirms gang control in a particular area, he said.

Colley was asked how well Lower Yakima Valley law enforcement agencies communicate with each other regarding any type of gang activity. "Sunnyside, Prosser and Grandview are all linked together," he explained, noting contact is frequently and rapidly made when anything new springs up.

Colley said some gang members have expressed disgust toward police because they feel harassed. "They say, 'You're stalking us, you're going after us'," he said.

"We make it unbearable for them to stay here and we're going to continue to go after them, prosecuting them to the best of our ability, and getting them out of our town," he said.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Toppenish shooting

On February 9th, at the 100 Block of Berger Lane in Toppenish an assault with a firearm was reported. No information is available as to victims or suspects.

New comprehensive youth gang project

YAKIMA, Wash. -- There have been many attempts to curb Yakima County's gang problem, but it continues to grow. Organizers of the Yakima County Comprehensive Youth Gang Project say this time it'll be different.

"I'm optimistic because we've actually brought everyone together and we're all going in the same direction. When communities try to go ten different directions to solve a social program it doesn't work. This will work, I guarantee it," said Harold Delia, court administrator, Yakima County Courts.

This new plan attacks the gang problem from all angles, prevention, intervention and suppression. It's targeted at high risk children ages twelve to twenty one. Kids that are involved in gangs or likely to join.

Herold recalls a conversation he had with a former gang leader. "And he said to me, I'll never forget this 'If you don't want 'em, we'll take 'em' and I think that's what this is all about, the community has to step up and say we want you because the gangs will provide that service if we don't," said Delia.

Aimed at engaging youth the project includes: After school programs, school re-entry assistance, mental health and substance abuse treatment, the development of positive recreational activities, and specialized mentoring.

The group includes a who's-who of Yakima Valley leadership and Yakima County Commissioner Kevin Bouchey said it's going to take everyone to tackle the gang problem.

"If we have a community that's not actively engaged in this that just becomes a breeding ground or fostering ground for gang activities," said Bouchey.

Now this ambitious project is only being funded by $200,000 from the state, but Delia said they'll be getting $500,000 in August from the federal government and that's renewable for three years. They've also applied for a Gates grant.