A routine traffic stop for driving violations ended with a Pasco man being zapped and in jail after he allegedly tried to ram a Pasco patrol car and led officers on a chase across the blue bridge into Kennewick.
Salvador Salazar, 26, eventually jumped out of his car in a Kennewick cul de sac and tried to run from officers, but he quickly was stopped after getting shocked with a Taser, said Pasco police Capt. Jim Raymond.
The incident started at 10:18 p.m. Wednesday when a Pasco officer tried to stop a car for traffic violations at 14th Avenue and Lewis Street. The driver, later identified as Salazar, went to 14th Avenue and Shoshone Street and stopped briefly, before then putting the car in reverse and trying to ram the patrol car behind him, Raymond said.
Salazar then sped off and led police on a chase through residential streets in Pasco, with speeds reaching 50 mph.
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He eventually crossed the blue bridge, and officers tried to stop him by strategically hitting his car to force him to spin and stop, Raymond said. The car, however, spun all the way around, and Salazar kept driving.
Salazar turned onto Vista Way, then back onto Highway 395, driving southbound in the northbound lanes of the highway. A semi-truck reportedly was almost hit by the wrong-way driver.
Salazar then turned onto East Seventh Avenue and drove through several residential streets in Kennewick before officers again tried to stop it with the special "PIT" maneuver, Raymond said.
Salazar's car was forced to stop after the hit, but he got it going again and took off. He eventually stopped in a cul de sac on Fruitland Street and tried to run away.
Raymond said the suspect would have had to "be in pretty good shape to outrun these officers," who were able to catch him and shock him with the Taser.
Kennewick Police Department's Criminal Apprehension Team helped Pasco police with the arrest.
Salazar was booked into the Franklin County jail on suspicion of two counts of first-degree assault for trying to ram the patrol car and attempt to elude.
Raymond said intoxication appeared to be a factor in the chase.
Pasco man acquitted of assault charges
A Pasco man accused of being involved in an assault on rival gang members was acquitted by a jury Thursday in Franklin County Superior Court.
Jurors took about 45 minutes to deliberate before returning the "not guilty" verdict against Stephen Esteras Morfin, said defense attorney Scott Johnson.
Morfin, 21, had been charged with first-degree assault with a firearm. His trial started Wednesday.
Six witnesses testified for the state, but the victim did not take the stand, Johnson said. The defense called no witnesses.
"There was just a general lack of evidence tying my client to the crime," he said.
Morfin was arrested by Pasco police after they were called to an assault that occurred Feb. 10 at a Pasco apartment.
Two other suspects, Isidro Licon and Edgar Arroyos, also have been charged with assault after a fight apparently broke out between them and Sylvia Guerra, 33, and her daughter, Selina Cortez, 18.
Arroyos' trial is set for June 20.
Licon is in the Benton County jail awaiting trial for unlawful possession of a firearm. He has not appeared in Franklin County on the assault charge.
Kennewick man accused of intentionally starting fire
A 41-year-old Kennewick man was arrested on suspicion of arson after he allegedly set fire to a mattress during a fight with his girlfriend.
Kennewick firefighters were called to the home at 424 S. Olympia Street at 11:30 a.m. Thursday after getting a call about smoke alarms going off in the home.
When they arrived, they found a smoldering mattress inside and other damage inside the home.
Kennewick police officers determined Charles Vincent Pullicino reportedly had destroyed the walls inside the home with a knife, ripped one smoke alarm from the wall and stabbed a second one with a knife, said Mike Blatman, Kennewick police spokesman.
Pullicino allegedly said the mattress caught fire when he dropped a cigarette, but fire investigators said the damage was not consistent with the story, Blatman said.
A lighter was found by the mattress, and Pullicino's roommate said Pullicino doesn't smoke, Blatman said.
Pullicino, who might have a mental illness, was booked into the Benton County jail on suspicion of first-degree arson
Kennewick man in jail after alleged sexual assault
A 23-year-old Kennewick man is in jail after an alleged sexual assault.
The victim went to the Kennewick police station Wednesday to report allegedly being raped by Jose Uriel Olivera Cazares, said Mike Blatman, Kennewick police spokesman.
Few details of the sexual assault were available Thursday because it still was being investigated, but Cazares was arrested and booked into the Benton County jail on suspicion of second-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment.
Detectives also served a search warrant Thursday morning at a home in the 600 block of West Kennewick Avenue in connection with their investigation.
Richland police warn of utility bill scam
Richland police are warning residents about a nationwide scam that tricks people by claiming the federal government will pay their utility bills.
The scammers solicit financial and personal information through phone calls, door-to-door visits or online solicitations, said Capt. Mike Cobb.
Social Security numbers also are sought, then the scammers give victims a fake bank routing or account number to use to help pay their utility bills.
Cobb said there is no federal program that will pay people's utility bills, and residents should be wary anytime anyone asks for their Social Security number of account information.
One Richland resident reportedly fell victim to the scam, but it wasn't known how much money the scammers got. The victim didn't report the incident to police but instead called the utility billing department.
Richland residents with questions about their utility bills can call 942-1104, then press 1.
-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; email@example.com