Pasco man held in stabbing case

A 25-year-old Pasco man is being held in the Franklin County jail on $200,00 bail for allegedly being involved in a gang fight last year that left two men with stab wounds.

Michael Angel Esparza-Aguirre pleaded innocent Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court to one count of first-degree assault. His trial is set for Sept. 19.

Esparza-Aguirre is accused of being with two other suspected gang members on Aug. 2, 2011, when two men were stabbed in Pasco, court documents said.

Pasco police were called around 10 p.m. after witnesses reported the gang fight in the area of North 14th Street and West Hassalo Street.

When officers arrived, they found Damian Arreguin-Ochoa and Mercedes Avilas-Contreras had been stabbed. Arreguin-Ochoa had a stab wound to the lower left side of his neck, and Avilas-Contreras was stabbed on the back of his upper left arm and upper left side of his back, documents said.

Minutes later, Officer Chad Pettijohn saw a man later identified as Liberato Sanchez-Gomez running away on West Nixon Street toward North 10 Street. Sanchez-Gomez also was seen throwing a knife under a vehicle, documents said.

Sanchez-Gomez was detained and later identified by witnesses as having been involved in the fight, documents said.

A second man, Juan P. Aguirre, was also found at North 15th and West Hassalo streets. Aguirre reportedly admitted being with Sanchez-Gomez and a second suspect, identified as Esparza-Aguirre, documents said.

The three men reportedly approached the two victims and started punching them. Moments later, Esparza-Aguirre allegedly stabbed the two victims.

Sanchez-Gomez was arrested for riot and Aguirre was taken to the juvenile detention center, documents said. Officers then learned Esparza-Aguirre was trying to leave the area.

Esparza-Aguirre was arrested on the assault warrant over the weekend and made his first appearance Monday in Franklin County Superior Court.