PASCO -- Gunshots rang out four separate times in Pasco in a six-hour period last weekend, but police say it's not necessarily a sign gang violence is increasing.
Still, they're working to identify groups or gang members and partnering with other agencies through the Tri-Cities to find ways to stop gang activity.
"I think that this weekend was unique," said Pasco police Capt. Jim Raymond. "Obviously, we're cautiously concerned. We're looking at it and trying to address it."
But he said police face challenges in preventing such incidents.
"These groups kind of huddle up, get in the street somewhere, and the next thing you know there's some sort of problem and police are called," Raymond said. "... How do you stop someone with a gun when they pull it out and (start shooting)?"
But officers are trying to keep the violence from escalating into a situation like officers are facing in the Yakima Valley, where people regularly are being killed in gang-related shootings.
Just on Saturday, an 18-year-old Sunnyside teen died after being shot in the head in a gang-related drive-by shooting at a home he reportedly was watching while the residents were out of town, the Associated Press reported.
In Pasco, a 19-year-old Pasco man was shot in the back during the first incident last weekend, but no one else was hit by bullets, Raymond said.
The first shooting was reported around 7 p.m. Saturday and the last occurred at 1 a.m. Sunday. All are suspected to be gang-related and likely were connected or were in retaliation for other attacks, Raymond said.
"We don't have a lot of cooperation by anybody, but we assume that's part of the problem," he said.
Police learned about the first shooting when the victim walked into Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco seeking treatment. He refused to provide details about how he was shot, but officers were able to determine he most likely was shot somewhere between the 700 block and 1400 block of Sylvester Street, Raymond said.
The second shooting was around 9 p.m. on the 1300 block of West Shoshone Street. Neighbors reported two groups of men confronted each other in the street and at some point gunshots were heard, Raymond said.
The groups fled before police arrived.
Another drive-by shooting was reported at 11 p.m. on the 4600 block of Moline Lane.
Someone in a blue Chevy Monte Carlo or Buick Regal fired several shots while driving by a home in the neighborhood, Raymond said.
Four suspects, described as young Hispanic males, were inside the car, he said.
The last shooting was two hours later on the 600 block of Hugo Street. A home was hit by bullets but no one inside was injured, Raymond said.
Pasco officers are continuing to investigate the shootings and will continue to make contacts and patrol areas where there seem to be gang issues, he said.
"There isn't just one geographical area where there's a gang issue," he said. "It seems to be peppered through the city."
And it's not just a Pasco problem, he said,
Police said they didn't see any gang violence spill over into Kennewick this weekend, but Kennewick officers did contact some known gang members in a traffic stop Sunday at Sixth Avenue and Washington Street and arrested one, Sgt. Ken Lattin said.
Hugo Aguirre, 23, of Moses Lake, was seen in the front seat of the car trying to conceal a softball-sized bag of marijuana at his feet, Lattin said, and he was arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana and some outstanding warrants.
In that same area a week ago, three suspects with gang ties were arrested after shooting an air gun at a Kennewick man who was washing his car.
"We've identified some different areas in town where typically we've had some gang activity and we've just asked our officers to be proactive in traffic enforcement," Lattin said. "We are stopping a lot of gang members. They don't like that kind of attention."
-- Paula Horton: 509-582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org