Crime

Richland couple accused of attack. The husband already has a dozen illegal gun charges

Neal C. Lassila, 50, talks with a defense attorney Katherine Bohnet on Tuesday afternoon before the start of his hearing on assault and two illegal gun possession charges. His bail remains at $250,000.
Neal C. Lassila, 50, talks with a defense attorney Katherine Bohnet on Tuesday afternoon before the start of his hearing on assault and two illegal gun possession charges. His bail remains at $250,000. Tri-City Herald

A Richland man has racked up his 12th and 13th illegal gun charges for allegedly pointing a loaded and cocked pistol at the head of his sister’s boyfriend.

Neal C. Lassila, 50, and his wife Rebecca A. Lassila, 46, appeared in court Tuesday on allegations they attacked the man on Nov. 28.

Rebecca Lassila claims she hit Derek Krauser in the face with a wooden club that had a metal insert — like a baton or billy club — because she was tired of him verbally abusing his girlfriend, her sister-in-law.

She told police her husband then pulled out a pellet gun that looked like a Colt .45, and “she told him he couldn’t do that because people wouldn’t know that it wasn’t real,” court documents said.

However, when officers searched the couple’s locked bedroom they found a real Colt semiautomatic pistol, along with a Smith & Wesson Magnum revolver, four loaded magazines and boxed and loose ammunition, documents said.

Neal Lassila, a convicted felon, already has a pending case from October 2017 for seven counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a gun.

Now he is charged in Benton County Superior Court with second-degree assault and two counts of first-degree gun possession.

He was set to be arraigned Tuesday, but the hearing was moved to Thursday because Lassila came into court in a wheelchair and said he was confused.

He remains in the Benton County jail on $250,000 bail.

Rebecca Lassila, who briefly was in court at the same time as her husband, cried when she saw him. She pleaded innocent to second-degree assault and her trial is set for Feb. 25.

Lassila was being held on $2,500 bail. Judge Bruce Spanner ordered her released without bail over the prosecutor’s objection.

The defense had argued that she needed to return home to care for her husband’s terminally ill father. However, the judge was told that Neal Lassila’s sister, the victim’s girlfriend, also lives there and can care for her father.

Rebecca and Neal Lassila are banned from returning to the home where the alleged assault happened.

According to court documents, Richland police Officer Jimmy George was on patrol when he saw a man in the roadway waving him down.

Krauser was bleeding from the nose and said he’d just been hit with a stick by Rebecca Lassila, documents said. He told George that the attack came out of nowhere.

Rebecca Lassila court
Rebecca A. Lassila, 46, appears Tuesday in Benton County Superior Court on a second-degree assault charge. She was released without bail. File Tri-City Herald

Krauser added that Neal Lassila then pointed a gun at his head while standing about 10 feet away, court documents said. He was able to run away when his girlfriend and Rebecca Lassila intervened, telling Neal Lassila to put down the gun, documents said.

Police stopped the Lassilas after they drove away from the house that the families share.

Police claim they found the baton in Rebecca Lassila’s purse. She initially denied hitting Krauser and claimed he tried to hit her, then admitted using her club on him, court documents said.

She also denied that there were any guns in their home.

“She wanted to know why she was in custody when striking Mr. Krauser in the face only made his nose bleed and did not break his nose,” documents said.

After detaining Neal Lassila, officers found several pocket knives and a dagger on him, along with a billy club in the backseat.

He told police he did not pull a gun but had grabbed the club when he went to check on the screaming, according to court documents

Lassila told officers there were no guns in the home because they were removed during a previous search warrant and he’s not allowed to have guns.

Lassila’s Facebook page says he is a self-employed cartographer, and features several pictures of him posted in the past two years with either a handgun or a rifle.

He served two months in jail after he was convicted in 2002 of unlawful gun possession. He also has a conviction for burglary and convictions in Columbia County from 2005 for gun possession.

In August 2016, he got another illegal gun charge when his father reported that Lassila had broken a door in the house and was threatening him.

Lassila admitted that a gun found on a bed belonged to him, but “asked what the big deal was,” court documents said.

He pleaded guilty in February 2017 to attempted unlawful gun possession, a gross misdemeanor, because Lassila claimed he didn’t know his rights were still revoked. He got four days in jail.

Then in September 2017, Lassila allegedly sold two Winchester 1886 rifles to a Kennewick pawn shop.

The store owner, who requires photo identification from sellers, then contacted police after his online research revealed that Lassila is a convicted felon.

While investigating that incident, police went to Lassila’s home and noticed a Smith & Wesson rifle near where he was sitting, documents said.

A search of the house allegedly turned up several firearms, including three loaded guns inside an unlocked cabinet, a loaded gun in a bag and three safes behind a locked door that held rifles.

Lassila’s father told police some of the guns belonged to him, but that he had not opened the safes for about three years.

Lassila’s trial is set for Feb. 11 in that case. He had been out of custody after posting $25,000 bail, but prosecutors may ask for an increase at a Dec. 13 hearing.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer
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