Crime

Police say Kennewick teen lucky to survive shooting

Kennewick police say a 16-year-old Kennewick boy is lucky to survive a gunshot that grazed his forehead Tuesday afternoon at First Avenue and Yelm Street.

Officers converged on the neighborhood just after 2:10 p.m., moments after receiving 911 calls from witnesses who heard a pop and then saw the young man fall to the ground with blood trickling from his head.

Sgt. Ken Lattin said the victim, who was not immediately identified, was taken by ambulance to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland with a wound that was not life-threatening.

Officers took two young men into custody as potential suspects, he said. Several additional people were detained for questioning, he said.

The shooting incident occurred within a half-hour of police learning about a gang-related confrontation "brewing" a few blocks away.

At 1:30 p.m., officers were dispatched to Kennewick Avenue and Yelm Street after getting a report about several gang members possibly fighting.

Officers determined there had been no fight, but contacted several people, including the 16-year-old who was later shot, Lattin said.

That teen had a warrant out for his arrest and was detained, but when officers contacted the juvenile detention center, they determined the warrant had been quashed.

He was released at 2:06 p.m. at Kennewick and Yelm, Lattin said.

Five minutes later, the teen was shot with a small-caliber weapon. Lattin said that prior incident raised suspicions the shooting also was gang-related.

"He's very lucky. He was conscious and alert," Lattin said of the teen, who was able to talk to officers before being taken to the hospital.

The teen claimed he didn't know who shot him. He suffered a cut above his left eye, Lattin said.

Witness information led police to look for a silver Dodge Charger traveling east on Kennewick Avenue. Lattin said police pulled the car over in the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church on Kennewick Avenue.

Officers and a police dog searched along Yelm Street and Kennewick Avenue, and in residential yards, to find the gun that may have been tossed while suspects tried to leave the area, Lattin said.

One of the two suspects was in the car, and a second was on foot and may have been trying to run to catch up with the Dodge, Lattin said.

Alex Gomez, who lives in a house at the corner of Yelm and Kennewick, said he knew the shooting victim, who he referred to as Francisco, and had been a student at Southridge High School in Kennewick.

Gomez, 15, said Francisco lived a few blocks away near Vancouver Street and Fourth Avenue, and often would walk to visit him.

A neighbor who asked not to be identified, fearing retaliation, said a house where Francisco may have been heading has been a hot spot for trouble.

That neighbor said Francisco got up after being shot and made his way to the house. He was waiting outside when the ambulance came to pick him up.

-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; jtrumbo@tricityherald.com

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