Drive-by shootings hit Yakima Valley

By Paula Horton, Herald staff writer March 15, 2011 

Police in the Lower Yakima Valley were busy overnight Sunday investigating multiple drive-by shootings, including one in Sunnyside that injured a teen while she was sleeping.

The shootings are suspected to be gang-related.

Two shootings were reported in Sunnyside and arrests were made, said Sunnyside police spokeswoman Charlotte Hinderlider.

Four suspects, including a 28-year-old Grandview man, were arrested by Yakima County sheriff's deputies shortly after a 4:15 a.m. shooting in Outlook, sheriff's Sgt. Mike Russell said.

In Sunnyside, a 16-year-old girl was hit twice in the back when shots were fired into a home where she was sleeping on the 1100 block of Tacoma Avenue around 12:45 a.m.

Multiple shots were fired from an assault rifle from the neighboring alley, Hinderlider said. The girl was being treated at a local hospital.

A dark-colored foreign-made sedan was described as a possible suspect vehicle, Hinderlider said.

A short time later, officers received a call about shots being fired in the 700 block of Bagley Drive. A similar high-powered assault rifle was used to shoot multiple shots at a home, Hinderlider said, but no one was hurt.

Grandview police, Washington State Patrol and Yakima County sheriff's deputies responded to the calls in Sunnyside.

About three hours later, shots were fired in Outlook at a home with known ties to gang activity, Russell said.

The home was shot at more than a dozen times and several rounds narrowly missed people inside. Seven people, including children as young as 2, reportedly were inside sleeping, he said.

Officers from multiple agencies responded and minutes later, a deputy spotted a vehicle matching the suspect vehicle description outside Zillah, Russell said.

The deputy stopped the vehicle with four men inside. The men, who have known gang ties, were detained but no guns were found, Russell said.

Deputies returned to where the vehicle first was spotted, and about 100 yards farther along the route, a deputy spotted three firearms on the road shoulder that appeared to have been tossed from a moving vehicle, Russell said.

Deputies seized an SKS assault rifle with a mounted bayonet, a scoped .22-caliber rifle and a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun. A magazine believed to belong to the assault rifle was found at the shooting scene, Russell said.

Two of the guns were reported stolen, he said, adding that the weapons will be examined for possible ties to previous shootings in the area.

The suspects -- a 32-year-old and 20-year-old from Granger, an 18-year-old from Spokane, and the Grandview man -- were booked into the Yakima County jail on suspicion of seven counts of first-degree assault and drive-by shooting.

The men from Granger and Grandview also were being held on suspicion of being felons in possession of a firearm.

The suspects are said to have extensive gang ties and criminal histories and were wearing gang colors.

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