Crime

Pasco man gunned down by gang members during high-speed chase, police say

Shooting suspect Cesar Alejandro Mendoza

Pasco shooting suspect Cesar Alejandro Mendoza makes his preliminary appearance in Franklin County Superior Court before Judge Cameron Mitchell through a video camera link. Provisional defense attorney Nicole Preszler sits nearby.
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Pasco shooting suspect Cesar Alejandro Mendoza makes his preliminary appearance in Franklin County Superior Court before Judge Cameron Mitchell through a video camera link. Provisional defense attorney Nicole Preszler sits nearby.

A 20-year-old man had just finished shopping at the Pasco Walmart late Saturday when he was followed by gang members in a high-speed chase and shot four times.

Orfanel Campos-Pineda was found covered in blood in the driver’s seat of his crashed Honda on Court Street.

It was only later that officers learned he had been hit once in the face and three times in the upper left chest — one bullet coming within inches of his heart, according to court documents.

The suspects sped off in their own car. However, two of them were arrested 20 hours later when they made another appearance at the Walmart, where they first crossed paths with Campos-Pineda and his friend, documents said.

Campos-Pineda was critically wounded and remains hospitalized, said police.

On Monday, the alleged shooter and his teenage passenger appeared in separate Tri-City courtrooms. Police have identified the other two occupants, a male and a female, but they are not in custody.

Pasco police are looking for at least one suspect from a shooting late Saturday night on West Court Street near Road 54 that left one man wounded.

Cesar Alejandro Mendoza, 20, had bail set at $750,000 during his brief hearing in Franklin County Superior Court.

Judge Cameron Mitchell found probable cause to hold him on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, drive-by shooting, criminal conspiracy and first-degree unlawful gun possession.

Mendoza, who lives in Royal City, is a convicted felon.

A 16-year-old from Quincy is in juvenile detention on $100,000 bail. The Tri-City Herald is not naming the teen because he is not yet charged.

Court Commissioner Jerri Potts found probable cause to hold the boy on suspicion of first-degree assault during the hearing in Franklin County Juvenile Court.

Police say it may all be a case of mistaken identity.

While the two suspects reportedly are connected with a documented street gang — with the teen expressing his pride and “throwing up” a gang sign during his police interview — the victim and his friend don’t have any known gang history, court documents said.

Investigators got surveillance video from Walmart, which corroborates what the victim’s friend, Armando Castillo Magana, told police happened that night, documents said.

The two men were leaving the store just before 11 p.m. when they walked out between two groups who were exchanging words and flashing gang signs, police said.

Campos-Pineda and Magana, 27, did not engage with either group. The two men were getting in their Honda when Magana noticed one of the groups got into a white sedan.

Campos-Pineda was on Road 68 at the Interstate 182 overpass when the white sedan drove up next to the them and and two passengers rolled down their windows and “began flashing gang signs while yelling” at them, court documents said.

Magana later told police that they worried the situation would escalate, so Campos sped off south on Road 68. Once on Court Street heading east, Campos hit speeds of about 90 mph trying to get away, but the sedan kept up with them, documents said.

They were approaching Road 54 when the sedan pulled up on the left of the Honda and the right rear passenger fired four times at Campos.

PascoshootingCourt54
Pasco police have two suspects in custody from a shooting late Saturday night on West Court Street near Road 54 that left one man critically wounded. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Magana described the shooter as wearing a blue sweater. When detectives later got the surveillance video, they found Mendoza was the only person in the two groups wearing a blue sweater, court documents said.

Campos told Magana he had been shot just before he lost control of the Honda and crashed into a curb. Magana immediately called 911.

Police used the Walmart footage to create several screenshots of the suspects. They shared those screenshots with other Tri-City law enforcement agencies and were able to identify Mendoza and the teen, documents said.

Detectives then scoured the suspects’ social media accounts to get the names of the other two suspects in their group that night.

Then at 7 p.m. Sunday, store security called 911 to say some of the suspects had returned to Walmart.

Police responded and surrounded the vehicle, where they found Mendoza in the right rear passenger seat and the teen. Officers allegedly saw a handgun on the floorboard near Mendoza.

The other two people detained Sunday night did not appear to have been involved in the Saturday shooting, police said.

Mendoza briefly admitted to being at the Pasco Walmart on Saturday, then refused to talk further with detectives, court documents said.

The teen told investigators that he and the other three pictured in Walmart surveillance screenshots were involved in the chase and shooting, documents said,

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call police at 509-628-0333.

Annette Cary; 509-582-1533
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