A 28-year-old Pasco man arrested after a gang-related shooting told a judge Monday that he is a "family man" and has no involvement in gangs.
Daniel Escalante Guillen's statements came as Pasco police are trying to beef up patrols in areas where four gang clashes occurred in a 36-hour period this past weekend.
The incidents are believed to be related -- possibly as retaliation for a drive-by shooting Wednesday that left a man with a gunshot wound in his side -- but few arrests have been made because of a lack of cooperation, said Pasco police Capt. Jim Raymond.
"It's tough when you have victims and witnesses who are essentially alleged to be involved with gangs in some sort of fashion," he said. "It makes it tough to investigate. It slows the investigation down, but you have to do the best you can do."
Never miss a local story.
Two men were shot, one boy sustained a head injury, two girls suffered minor injuries in a fight and four people were arrested in connection with the weekend incidents.
Guillen was the first arrested after an early-morning shooting Saturday near Sixth Avenue and B Street. Four to five shots were fired during a reported gang fight, and Anthony Patino, 22, was found shot in the leg inside a car leaving the scene, police and court documents said.
Patino had been shot with a small-caliber bullet, possibly .22- or .25-caliber, and it was lodged in his right calf, documents said. He was treated at Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco.
Three witnesses told officers that the fight started in the area of Seventh Avenue and B Street, shots rang out, and two suspects ran through the apartments at 823 S. Seventh Ave. toward the alley.
When a patrol car went into the alley, the suspects ran back toward the street and were spotted going into an apartment, documents said.
Guillen, who police say is a leader of a prominent gang, lives at the apartment, documents said. He was arrested after officers got a warrant to search the place, and his two vehicles were impounded.
As his 1992 Chevy Caprice was being towed away, a .22-caliber pistol fell from it, documents said.
He reportedly told police the gun belonged to him. He said he put it in the car after the altercation but never fired it.
Guillen, a convicted felon, was booked into the Franklin County jail on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
He made a preliminary appearance Monday in Franklin County Superior Court where he was ordered held on $20,000 bail.
"I'm not a gang member, I'm a family man," he told Judge Robert Swisher. "I haven't had a felony since I was 18. I'm 28 years old. I have a family that depends on me."
Swisher, however, agreed with prosecutors that the bail was warranted, telling Guillen that he could be facing time in prison.
"You're a convicted felon and the allegation is you have a firearm," Swisher said. "This is a serious offense."
Only hours after Guillen's arrest, Jose Leonardo Villarreal, 22, and Debbie Ann Villarreal, 19, both of Kennewick, were arrested along with a 15-year-old Kennewick boy after police responded to a large gang fight Saturday night in the 1900 block of Court Street.
The Villarreals bailed out of jail Sunday and were cited with a misdemeanor riot charge. They are to be arraigned in Pasco Municipal Court on May 10, court officials said.
Two teen girls suffered minor injuries during that fight, Raymond said. Most people ran off before officers could detain them, but Raymond said officers believe they "rounded up the main players."
No suspects have been identified yet in a Sunday shooting at the Pasco Flea Market that left a 17-year-old with a wound to his chest and a 14-year-old with head injuries, Raymond said.
Officers also are trying to track down suspects in a gunfight involving four vehicles racing down Douglas Street. Witnesses said the shooters were hanging out of the passenger windows firing at each other.
No one was reported hit but two rounds hit a parked car and multiple spent casings were found on the street, Raymond said.
"The violence back and forth doesn't appear to be directed at citizens in the community -- it's back and forth with each other," Raymond said. "Innocent bystanders could get hurt in (the gunfight chase), but fortunately no one did."
Raymond said investigators believe they know who shot Patino in the leg, but the lack of cooperation is delaying an arrest. He urged anyone with information about any of the incidents to call police and "put us on the right track."
In the meantime, officers will chase down leads and increase patrols to try to stem the violence.
"There's definitely been a flare-up of gang activities," Raymond said. "It could stop tomorrow with an arrest of certain individuals and you could quell that."
Most of the incidents appear to involve people with gang ties to the Tri-Cities, he said, adding that officers will be proactive and put pressure on criminal activities.
"We're trying to saturate patrols in those areas where we believe these incidents are building," Raymond said. "We're taking a zero-tolerance approach. ... We're going to keep hammering and hitting people and arresting them for any violations of laws in those areas, trying to get to the root of it."
-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; email@example.com