Special Reports

Victims' relatives wondering why

It may have been ironic that five Tri-City men died together Tuesday in an auto shop in Pasco.

They had spent much of the past year together as friends, according to two of the victims' wives.

"We'd go party downtown or they'd come over for a barbecue," recalled Sally Lamas, 16.

Lamas stood bravely Wednesday In the doorway of a single-story white house at 520 S. Elm Street that she and her husband, Eliceo, had shared with three other people. They had been married 11 months.

The house has neither electricity nor telephone. A pane of glass was gone from the storm door; two car hulks sat next to a garage by the house.

Lamas shed no tears. Her dark hair was pulled back from her face in a ponytail.

"We'd all been friends about a year," said Lamas, as she looked at the list of the shooting victims that was released Wednesday by police.

Lamas said the men used to work on cars together in the dirt driveway next to their house. But neighbors complained so the men moved their work to Medina's shop on A street.

Fixing the vehicles or preparing them for painting was the primary income for the families, she said.

The last time Lamas said she saw her husband he was on his way to the garage to work.

Now Lamas, a Pasco native, said she did not know what she would do.

"We're afraid," she said, not wanting to discuss what she had heard about her husband's murder or the wounding of one roommate, Jesse Salas Rocio.

"We don't dare stay in this house at night."

A more visibly-shaken Rosemary Rocio sat on a worn brown couch inside the near-empty living room. Eight-months pregnant with her first child, Rocio said she was waiting for her husband's release before deciding to do anything. The couple has been married two years.

The women said they had been told very little by police about what was happening. Rocio was not even notified of when her husband moved from Our Lady of Lourdes Health Center Wednesday into police protective custody.

The women said their husbands were not involved in drugs. They speculated that the gunmen were after one person and felt they had to kill everyone present.

"I don't know why they couldn't wait until whoever it was was alone. It's too bad they had to kill innocent people," said Lamas.

"For all we've been through together this year, for this to happen," said Lamas' cousin, who did not want her name used.