Men plead guilty in Feb. 18 Kennewick drive-by

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldApril 4, 2013 

Three Pasco men are going to prison after admitting they fired shots at a gang rival's Kennewick home in retaliation for an earlier drive-by shooting.

Victor Manuel Garcia, 18, and Thomas Gene Quintero Jr. and Eduardo Morfin, both 20, all pleaded guilty Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court for their roles in the Feb. 18 incident.

Angel Miguel Hinojosa waived his right to a speedy trial during a Thursday hearing. Hinojosa, who turned 17 on Monday, is set to face a jury June 10 on charges of drive-by shooting and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

A fifth suspect who was 14 at the time, Eric Falcon, reportedly wasn't charged.

Quintero, Garcia and Hinojosa all were barred from owning or possessing firearms because of their convictions for an October 2009 drive-by shooting in Pasco.

On Wednesday, Quintero and Garcia both pleaded guilty to drive-by shooting and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Quintero will serve three years and five months in prison, and Garcia will do three years.

During Quintero's hearing, defense attorney Shelley Ajax said her client is young and realized he "made a repeat error." Quintero wants to do his time and move forward, she said.

When Quintero told the court he had nothing to say, Judge Craig Matheson asked what he was thinking.

"I wasn't thinking. I was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time," Quintero answered. "I wasn't in the right state of mind."

Matheson pointed out how disturbing gang activity and drive-by shooting are for residents.

"I don't normally say this and I don't want to be offensive to you, but this is really stupid behavior," the judge said.

"Yes, your honor," Quintero replied.

Matheson added, "It's just not smart to be in a gang. You do things you wouldn't otherwise do."

Morfin was sentenced to two years and two months in prison for drive-by shooting and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. His criminal history includes a conviction for felony malicious mischief.

According to court documents, the five were together when Garcia "complained about his house being shot at by rival gang members. The group decided to do a drive-by shooting at a rival gang member's residence."

They all piled into a Ford Escort, with Hinojosa behind the wheel, and headed to the 1300 block of South Beech Street, documents said.

Once outside the home which was occupied by Oscar Hernandez and three others, Quintero aimed a Smith & Wesson revolver out of a partially rolled down window and fired about six times.

At least one of the bullets hit the front of the house, but no one was injured in the 9:20 p.m. shooting.

Kennewick officers who responded to the scene got a description of the suspects' vehicle and passed it on to other Tri-City law enforcement. Less than 30 minutes later, a Pasco officer saw a similar Ford Escort cross over the cable bridge.

The officer followed the Ford to a Pasco home, where three males reportedly fled from the car. Quintero and Falcon stayed in the car and as the officer approached it, he could see shotgun shells inside, court documents said.

The two were detained for questioning.

The next morning, Garcia and Hinojosa were found in a nearby shed and taken into custody. Morfin, who also uses the last name of Morfin-Mendoza, was arrested Feb. 20 by Kennewick police.

Officers got a search warrant for the Ford and reportedly found three firearms in the trunk: a loaded Mossberg shotgun; a loaded 9mm pistol with an extra loaded magazine; and a Smith & Wesson revolver with spent shell cases.

The revolver had been reported stolen in a 2012 Pasco burglary, documents said.

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