KENNEWICK — A Pasco man accused of shooting a rival gang member in the stomach Thursday afternoon has been involved in at least three other gang clashes in the Tri-Cities in two years.
Investigators speculate the incident is related to suspected gang-related shootings in Pasco earlier this week.
Jose Cardona, 20, was arrested shortly after he confronted Miguel Montenegro near a Kennewick apartment complex and shot him once in the stomach, said Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin.
"This type of behavior is not ever going to be tolerated in Kennewick," Lattin said. "When these types of things happen, we're going to dedicate every resource ... to catch (those involved)."
Kennewick officers and Benton County sheriff's deputies quickly surrounded the area after the shooting was reported at 2 p.m. near Union and Albany streets.
They were able to catch Cardona as he walked behind Winco Foods at Clearwater Avenue and Union Street, Lattin said.
Montenegro, 20, of Kennewick, was shot in a gravel area near the Sundance Apartments. He was able to run toward the HAPO Community Credit Union at Fourth Avenue and Union Street before collapsing in the parking lot.
He was in obvious pain but was able to talk to officers before paramedics took him to Kennewick General Hospital. Lattin said Montenegro's injuries are not life-threatening.
Multiple rounds were fired by Cardona, said Kennewick police Detective Sgt. Jack Simington, adding that it's "very fortunate" nobody else in the area was hit.
Montenegro had emergency surgery to remove the bullet from his abdomen and was listed in serious but stable condition Thursday evening, Simington said.
An altered .22-caliber rifle used by Cardona was found behind a business on Clearwater Avenue at Williams Street, Lattin said.
Kennewick detectives and sheriff's deputies were seen searching Dumpsters and garbage cans around Domino's pizza, looking for possible clothing or the weapon thrown away by Cardona.
Investigators speculated that Thursday's incident was related to gang shootings in Pasco on Tuesday and Wednesday, Lattin said.
Specific details about the shootings, including whether any arrests were made, was not immediately available Thursday from Pasco police.
However, Pasco police Sgt. Ben Majetich did confirm that officers responded to a "shots fired" call Tuesday, but they found no one injured.
On Wednesday night, officers received a report about a man at Kennewick General Hospital with a gunshot wound to his arm, but the victim was not very cooperative and wouldn't say much except that he was driving in Pasco when he got shot, Majetich said.
Montenegro and Cardona are known gang members, police said.
Cardona was with a Pasco man who was shot and killed by Christopher Ruesga, a rival gang member, in April 2009.
He also was shot and injured in June 2009 during a drive-by shooting at the Kamiakin Apartments, and in May, Cardona was shot during a drive-by shooting at a Pasco apartment complex on Sylvester Street.
"There's just this ongoing feud," Simington said. "We have shootings in Pasco and it's bleeding over to Kennewick. We're just going to keep putting pressure on them ... they were told that (Thursday night), this group that wasn't arrested. We're just not going to tolerate it."
Cardona and Montenegro have been living or staying at the same apartment complex at 14 N. Sheppard St., which is just a block or two away from Thursday's shooting.
One was in an upstairs unit and one was in a downstairs apartment, Simington said, adding that officers have contacted the landlord and asked for some intervention help.
"The frustrating part is sometimes these landlords don't understand what they're getting into when they rent to these people," he said.
Simington said Kennewick officers were expected to blanket the area Thursday night -- and likely over the long holiday weekend.
"We want to make sure we don't have any more issues, and if we do, we'll arrest them," he said. "They either need to straighten up and do what's right ... or they can leave town or they can go to jail. They get to choose."
Cardona was booked into the Benton County jail on suspicion of first-degree assault, possession of a stolen firearm and being a felon in possession of a gun.
Investigators believe there are additional people involved in Thursday's shooting and any witnesses are encouraged to contact Kennewick police.
* Paula Horton: 509-582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org