Crime

Pasco teens face July 25 trials for drive-by shootings

KENNEWICK — Two 16-year-old boys are behind bars on $200,000 bail each for a drive-by shooting outside a Kennewick convenience store that left a rival gang member with a bullet in the leg.

Juan Lorenzo Ramirez and Jonathon Villegas, both of Pasco, face July 25 trials in Benton County Superior Court.

Villegas appeared in court Friday, and Ramirez appeared Thursday. They are being held in the Benton County jail.

The boys are charged with drive-by shooting and first-degree assault, along with a gun enhancement and an aggravating circumstance claiming the shooting was to benefit "a criminal street gang, its reputation, influence or membership."

The May 30 shooting in the Sun Mart parking lot at First Avenue and Washington Street sparked a retaliation shooting the next night at a Pasco home. At least six people have been arrested in connection with the two events.

According to court documents, Kennewick police were called to Jack Didley's on Kennewick Avenue at 11:40 p.m. May 29 for reports of a fight between members and associates of two rival gangs. Ramirez was asked to leave the club, along with Juvenal Torres.

Torres, 19, and Jaime Tovar, 16, then walked down to Sun Mart and met three other young men, including 15-year-old Geovanny Blanco.

It was just after midnight when several witnesses saw a front seat passenger in a minivan open fire on the group in the parking lot, documents said. Tovar was wounded in the leg.

Just before the shots were fired, someone in the red or purple van reportedly yelled out the name of a gang.

The description of the van matched the vehicle Ramirez was driving when he took Villegas to Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco on May 15 when Villegas had a gunshot wound to his abdomen, court documents said. Details of that shooting, including where it happened, are not known.

The van reportedly is registered to Villegas' uncle, who lives in the same Road 40 trailer park as Villegas and Ramirez.

Then on May 31, Torres allegedly fired several rounds from the front passenger seat of a Honda Accord toward a house at Fourth Avenue and A Street.

The home is said to be frequented by members of the rival gang involved in the Sun Mart incident, documents said.

Police and court documents said the shooting was in retaliation.

Torres, Tovar, Blanco and Ivan Madred Valdez, 18, were arrested for the late-night Pasco shooting.

Torres, Tovar and Valdez are charged in Franklin County Superior Court with first-degree assault and drive-by shooting. Their trials are scheduled for July 27.

After Ramirez's arrest June 2, he admitted contacting his friends after the dispute at the Kennewick bar and asking them "to bring a gun because he was angry," documents said.

Kennewick police obtained his cellphone records and discovered that he sent a text message that night to Villegas just before the drive-by shooting, documents said.

The content of the text messages was saved by the phone company and allegedly shows Ramirez asking Villegas to bring a gun to him because of the problems he was having.

The van was found June 1 parked one block from its owner's house.

On June 6, Villegas went to Mel's Towing, where it was stored after being impounded, in an attempt to retrieve the van, court documents said. That's when he was arrested, though he denied any involvement in the drive-by shooting, documents said.

Prosecutors allege Villegas in fact brought a .380-caliber pistol to Ramirez.

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