A 28-year-old Richland man who’d been ordered to stay away from guns now is going back to federal prison for trying to toss a revolver over the cable bridge during a police chase.
Officers wanted to stop Christopher A. Renfroe during the early morning chase for driving a stolen Ford Explorer.
Renfroe and his passenger tried to throw the gun into the river, but it never made it over the side of the bridge.
The gun was found three hours later by a work release inmate crossing the bridge on his way back to the Benton County jail from his job in Pasco. The inmate immediately reported the gun to a corrections officer.
Renfroe was sentenced this week in U.S. District Court to four years and seven months for being a felon in possession of a gun.
The guilty plea was part of a global resolution involving his separate, but related Benton County Superior Court case for theft of a vehicle and possessing drugs.
He got the exact same 55-month sentence, which will be served at the same time as the federal case.
Court documents show that Renfroe will first go the state Department of Corrections, where his sentence can be shortened by up to one-third for good behavior. Then he will be transferred to the federal Bureau of Prisons to serve out the rest of the time.
Defense attorney Paul E. Shelton said Renfroe’s first conviction came after he punched his mother at age 12.
While Renfroe has a lengthy criminal record, the majority of his felony and misdemeanor convictions were for less than 30 days, Shelton said. This is the longest he will have been locked up.
Renfroe was 19 when he got a four-year prison term for assaulting his baby daughter.
In that case, Renfroe entered an Alford plea claiming the girl’s broken bones and internal injuries happened when the father and daughter fell while skateboarding. He also said he accidentally hit the infant with a metal bat that he threw while she was lying on a couch.
Then in April 2017, a Richland woman called police to say Renfroe had been at her home earlier that night and now her keys and Ford Explorer were missing.
The woman also reported that Renfroe, while at the home, had retrieved a .22-caliber revolver from his backpack and tried to persuade her to buy him ammunition, documents said.
A half-hour after Richland police took that report, Pasco officers saw Renfroe driving the stolen Ford. Renfroe ignored police lights and sirens, and sped off toward the cable bridge, court documents said.
At one point he swerved the Ford to the right over the fog line and slowed down. Officers later viewed dashboard camera footage and discovered something had been thrown from the Ford during the chase over the bridge, documents said.
After getting the tip from the work release inmate about a gun on the bridge, police found the revolver along with a holster and handgrips. The gun was loaded with five rounds.
Renfroe was in the Benton County jail for the vehicle theft when he was heard on recorded visits talking to family and friends about possessing the gun and how he was “glad” he tossed it, court documents said.
Federal prosecutors said Renfroe also implied during those conversations that he might have gotten into a shootout with police had he not thrown the gun out of the car, documents said.
Renfroe’s mother, along with other relatives and friends, wrote Senior Judge Ed Shea that Renfroe will have a support system to help him get back on his feet when released in several years.