A 35-year-old man who left his girlfriend’s ex paralyzed during a 2014 dispute outside a Kennewick tavern now is wanted for a fatal shooting over Memorial weekend in Hermiston.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Tyree Q. Houfmuse for his alleged involvement in the death of James Cragun, said Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston.
Cragun was found unresponsive early May 27 at a S.W. 13th Place apartment complex. He was shot at least once.
Police have released few details about the homicide.
Edmiston said his department won’t be disclosing what evidence was collected “for the integrity of the investigation.”
Houfmuse has family ties to the Tri-Cities and Hermiston, and was last known to be living in Tacoma.
He quickly was named as a person of interest in Cragun’s death, and now Edmiston is turning to the public for help in tracking down the suspect.
“We wanted to push this information out in hopes a member of the public, either in our area or in the Pacific Northwest, would assist by calling their local authorities if they know the whereabouts of Mr. Houfmuse,” Edmiston said in a news release.
“This investigation is still very active as an incredible amount of physical evidence has been seized and will be processed by the Oregon State Police crime lab,” he said. “We continue to work diligently with the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office to hopefully bring some closure to this horrific event.”
Houfmuse was charged with the 2014 Thanksgiving eve shooting of Anthony L. Asselin in the parking lot of the Village Tavern.
Asselin shared a child with Houfmuse’s then-girlfriend, and reportedly had some bad feelings about the new romance between his friend and ex-girlfriend. The two men were in the parking lot arguing when Houfmuse fired six times at Asselin, hitting him three times.
Asselin, a father of four and a local rapper, was left paralyzed from the chest down after one bullet lodged in his spine.
Houfmuse’s first Benton County trial on charges of first-degree assault with a gun and second-degree unlawful possession of a gun by a felony ended in a mistrial because of juror misconduct.
In the second trial a year after the shooting, jurors found that Houfmuse acted in self defense when he fired at Asselin. Houfmuse had testified that Asselin made threats to kill and used obscene language in a barrage of calls leading up to the incident.
Houfmuse — whose criminal history includes convictions for possessing drugs, attempting to elude police and taking a vehicle without permission — was found guilty of the gun possession by a felon.
He was sentenced to one year and eight months, and given credit for the time he sat in Benton County jail awaiting trial on the assault.
Houfmuse is appealing that gun conviction, saying lawyer John Crowley of Seattle was ineffective at trial for not showing jurors that his client was protecting himself out of “necessity.”
Houfmuse claims “he reasonably believed that he was at risk of death or great bodily injury if he did not protect himself,” according to his appeal documents.
The case will be reviewed by the state Court of Appeals in Spokane on June 12.
Houfmuse is described as 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds with a stocky build. He has black hair and brown eyes, a scar above his right eye and several tattoos.
Anyone with information can contact the Hermiston Police Department at 541-567-5519.