After nearly two weeks on the lam, the suspect in a hit-and-run that left a Kennewick man dead was arrested early Wednesday at a friend’s house in Pasco, police say.
Pasco police surrounded the house on the 1700 block of North Sixth Avenue after getting a tip that Miguel A. Paniagua, 23, was inside.
Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers had offered a cash reward for information leading to his arrest.
Authorities called Paniagua outside about 4 a.m. and the documented gang member surrendered peacefully, said Capt. Ken Roske, police spokesman.
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Paniagua — wanted on four felonies, including vehicular homicide, in connection with the crash — was booked into the Franklin County jail. Bail was previously set at $500,000 after an arrest warrant was issued days after the crash.
Paniagua is expected to make his first appearance in Franklin County Superior Court on Thursday.
It appears Paniagua stayed in the Tri-Cities after the deadly collision, avoiding arrest by moving from house to house, Roske said. Detectives followed leads and finally narrowed in on him after the tip came in.
Authorities accuse Paniagua of crashing a pickup truck into a Honda sedan driven by Jason E. Smith, 36, on April 2 at Road 36 and Sylvester Street. Smith, a husband and father of two girls, died a short time later from massive internal injuries.
Paniagua allegedly fled during an attempted traffic stop, leading police on a short chase that was quickly called off for safety reasons. Police say he was driving more than 60 mph when the pickup “torpedoed” into the Honda.
Surveillance video captured a person resembling Paniagua running away from the scene, according to court documents. Police used a search dog to comb surrounding neighborhoods.
Officers found a loaded gun inside the truck, which Facebook posts show Paniagua had bought, court documents said. Paniagua is a convicted felon.
Paniagua was also charged with attempting to elude police, first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and failure to stop and identify at the scene of an injury accident. He has six other outstanding warrants.
Smith’s family said he was on his way to the post office to pick up mail for his business when the crash happened. He had just dropped off his 6-year-old daughter at gymnastics.
A memorial fund has been set up in Smith’s name to help his family. To donate, go to www.gofundme.com/qwf6bg.