Archive for the ‘Top story of the day’ Category

Tree farm property burning in Onalaska

Monday, August 10th, 2015
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Looking south from Gish Road at Davis Drive at an air tanker dropping fire retardant yesterday. / Courtesy photo by Cassie Frazier

Updated at 3:29 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  A fire that ignited west of Onalaska yesterday afternoon grew into a wildfire spreading over roughly 100 acres.

No injuries have been reported or any structures burned, but several area residents were asked to leave.

“There were about 20 homes evacuated by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office yesterday afternoon,”  Chuck Turley, assistant manager of the Pacific Cascade Region of the state Department of Natural Resources said. “By the end of the day they were allowed to return home.”

Lewis County Fire District 1 was called at 2:06 p.m. for smoke showing in the area of the 300 block of Gish Road.

“By the time our unit got to Leonard and Gish roads, she started requesting District 5,” District 1 Assistant Chief Rhonda Volk said.

The initial site was approximately a quarter mile south of 382 Gish Road, according to one fire official.

A crew from District 5 was right behind her as they reached the turnoff, Volk said.

“They made access, found the fire and dumped one load of water on it,” she said. “It was obvious this was way more than we were going to be able to handle.” They backed out, she said.

They were joined by fire trucks and tenders from their own departments as well as from Salkum and rural Chehalis, and a chief from Winlock, Volk said. Help from DNR was requested right away.

“We were basically assigned for structural protection,” District 6 Firefighter Matt McCoy said. “The fire was heading in that direction when the wind shifted; the homeowner was out there with a dozer, trying to put in some fire lines.”

The chief of Onalaska’s DIstrict 1 – an all-volunteer department – was on vacation. Assistant Chief Volk was out of town and arrived later.

Volk said District 5, also known as Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue out of Napavine, took over incident command, and by the time she arrived, DNR was taking over.

She said she understood from District 5’s chief, there was a grand total of about 100 personnel working the fire by last night. DNR sent fire engines with crews as well as two helicopters to drop water, according to Turley.

“We did bring about six loads of fire retardant from air tankers, from Moses Lake,” Turley said.

Most local firefighters were released last night.

“Last night, the heat goes out of the day, the humidity comes up, and the fire starts to lay down,” Turley said this morning. “Today we expect that to reverse itself.”

By 8 p.m. yesterday, the size of the fire was estimated at 80 acres. DNR used GPS mapping during the night to measure it at 103 acres, Turley said. An investigator is trying to determine the cause.

Burning are 10 to 20-year-old trees – Douglas fir and alder – on private parcel tree farms, according to the Type Three Incident Command Team public information officers. It’s near several homes and structures.

Turley said approximately 100 personnel are fighting the fire today, and it’s not considered controlled or contained. DNR crews have been digging a fire break by hand and by bulldozer, he said.

“There’s a line around the entire fire, but its sketchy and narrow, and needs to be widened,” he said.

A Type Three Incident Command Team from northern Arizona – which was already in Washington on stand by – is taking charge of the fire today. They are currently set up at Lewis and Clark State Park.

Within the fire service, a Type Five Command Team is used for the least complicated wild fires, while a Type One Command Team is used for the most complex, according to Turley.

Gish Road is closed to non-resident traffic.

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A large plume of smoke was suddenly visible from several miles east in Silver Creek yesterday afternoon. / Courtesy photo by Jenifer Poe-Couch

Local fire danger prompts more restrictions, warnings

Saturday, August 8th, 2015
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Not even small backyard campfires are allowed until further notice in the cities of Centralia, Chehalis and unincorporated Lewis County, as of yesterday and today. / Courtesy photo by Rhonda Volk

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Just put the marshmallow roasting sticks away for the summer.

Outdoor recreational and cooking fires are prohibited within the city limits of both Centralia and Chehalis until further notice.

Both cities made announcements yesterday afternoon, one day after a similar ban was issued for unincorporated areas of Lewis County.

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Ken Cardinale

Officials are citing a high fire hazard due to the extremely parched environment.

Chehalis Fire Department Chief Ken Cardinale put it this way:

“As the Chehalis fire chief, I cannot stress enough the seriousness of the fire danger that presently exists,” Cardinale stated. “The continued dry conditions, very low fuel moistures and dry weather pattern we have been experiencing are contributing to the high fire danger.”

Brush fires have broken out, but area firefighters have been quick to keep them from burning down buildings. The dry season began earlier than usual this year, meaning vegetation is more susceptible to ignition.

The restrictions apply on both private property and public property, such as city parks.

Centralia’s went into effect at 12:01 a.m. today. Residents there are still allowed to use above ground barbecues with contained flame.

Chehalis’s is in effect now. Citizens there are permitted the use of propane or charcoal barbecues that are self contained with lids. Also, outdoor fireplaces equipped with an approved spark arrestor installed on the flue are okay, according to the city.

All three entities strongly urge residents and property owners to be attentive to the dangers and take proactive fire prevention measures.

Cardinale refers folks to the Chehalis Fire Department’s website, where information can be found on what those in the fire service refer to as creating “defensible space” around your home.

It’s a good time for some yard work, pruning, trimming and cleaning up if it hasn’t already been done.

The new fire chief also suggests anyone with questions ought to give them a call, or stop by the station.

A brush fire that broke out on Tuesday off Centralia-Alpha Road southeast of Chehalis grew to 18 acres and as of yesterday, still had more than 70 firefighters and support personnel from the state Department of Natural Resources working to extinguish hot spots.

Steve Mansfield, who oversees the Lewis County Department of Emergency Management, visited the scene yesterday morning and indicated DNR planned to remain there through the weekend to ensure it didn’t reignite or spread.

“Until this drought is over and the threat of fire is significantly diminished, be physically aware of safety around any open flames or activity that could cause an ignition of materials,” Mansfield stated.

Recent fires in Lewis and south Thurston counties have had suspected causes from such ordinary activities as lawn mowing with the blade catching a rock, haying with a tractor driving over a “wind row”, and a worn extension cord to a parked motorhome starting a grass fire.

The former sheriff noted none of us can control the weather conditions, but there are a number of steps individuals can take to reduce the risks. Basic precautions:

• Don’t throw lit materials and cigarettes out of your vehicle.
• Find alternatives to outdoor campfires and cooking.
• Refrain from driving in areas of tall grass and fields
• When operating equipment, watch for anything that can cause a spark.
• Have a fire extinguisher handy when working outdoors near sources of ignition.
• Listen to local media regarding local fire conditions and hazards
• Be proactive, the property and lives you save may be your own.

Feds: Tree thieves and mill owner indicted for trafficking specialty maple from Gifford Pinchot

Friday, August 7th, 2015
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Courtesy photo by U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Three Lewis County timber cutters and a Winlock mill owner have been indicted on theft and other federal crimes in a case involving illegal harvest and selling of Big Leaf Maple, the wood from which is particularly valuable for musical instruments.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced yesterday Harold Clause Kupers, 48, owner of  J & L Tonewoods, allegedly purchased the maple knowing it was stolen and then sold it to out of state companies for more than $800,000.

The tree cutters allegedly took the specialty wood from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

“The trees in our national forests belong to all Americans and should not be chopped up to enrich a few,” U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes stated. “In this case a beautiful and valued resource that is home to endangered species, was felled with some parts just discarded on the forest floor.”

Charged with theft of and damaging of government property are Ryan Justice, 28, of Randle, James Miller, 36, of Morton, and Kevin Mullins, 56, of Packwood, according to authorities.

Kupers is accused of giving training and assistance to the trio on how to retrieve the wood from various sites in the forest. The men would seek out “figured maple” which is especially valuable for musical instruments, according to Hayes.

According to the indictment, between October 2011 and March 2012 the tree cutters made approximately fifty sales of illegally-harvested maple wood to Kupers for his Winlock lumber mill. They allegedly would deliver pieces of the trees to J& L Tonewoods, where it was cut into salable blocks called “billets.”

Kupers is charged with receipt of stolen property and seven violations of the Lacey Act, which prohibits trafficking in illegal wildlife, fish, and plants.

Justice and Miller are in custody pending detention hearings. Mullins has not yet made his initial appearance on the indictment.

Violations of the Lacey Act are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The other charges in the indictment are punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Forest Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson.

Chehalis area wildfire knocked down but not contained

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
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Two helicopters drop water as dozens of firefighters on the ground work to stop a fire off Centralia-Alpha Road. / Courtesy photo by Lori Nelsen

Updated at 12:43 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A fire of unknown origin broke out southeast of Chehalis yesterday, growing to approximately 12 acres as it consumed brush and trees.

“The fire is knocked down, there’s not active fire now,” Chuck Turley, assistant manager of the Pacific Cascade Region of the state Department of Natural Resources said this morning. “We’re trying to keep it that way.”

Local firefighters called around 3 p.m. yesterday to the area roughly a half mile north of the intersection of Centralia-Alpha Road and North Fork Road headed towards a large smoke column and found a fairly large brush fire, Lewis County Fire District 6 Chief Tim Kinder said.

“We concentrated on a small farm at risk of being taken down,” Kinder said.

Crews from rural Chehalis, Napavine and Onalaska protected the small house until personnel from DNR arrived, he said.

DNR put into service more than 40 firefighters, a bulldozer and two helicopters which dropped water on the flames. A helicopter is on standby this morning.

The wind was swirling up above and constantly changing directions, Kinder said. “And it was a lot of heavy, thick brush.”

The active fire was knocked down last night and the last tender crew from Lewis County Fire District 6 was released about 7 o’clock this morning. Crews with two tenders from Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue were on the scene this morning, Kinder said.

Turley said they’ve dug a line around all but about 300 feet and consider it 60 percent contained this morning.

Fueling the blaze was standing timber as well as relatively newly planted trees, he said, with lots of blackberries and lots of salal.

It’s the third time in a week fire has sprung up on the property. Turley said his crews were out there last Tuesday and Wednesday.

“All I’ll say about that is the cause is under investigation,” he said.

Approximately 50 DNR personnel are working out there today, he said.

Turley said the lower temperatures and that the relative humidity came up overnight were helpful.

He’s expecting a four to five day reprieve with the weather and then on Tuesday it’s forecast to get very hot again, he said.

Turley said he’s not sure how much longer they will be out there.

“I would imagine it will take more than just today to get it completely controlled,” he said.

It was just last Friday when the Commissioner of Public Lands urged the public to take the utmost care not to spark fires, citing a combination of worsening conditions and the probability of multiple large fires by mid-week.

Seven active large fires are burning in the state currently, including one that broke out about 1 p.m. yesterday in Klickitat County and is already approximately 10,000 acres, according to authorities. That blaze, near the town of Roosevelt in south Central Washington called the Highway 8 Fire, is threatening 350 homes and evacuation orders have been put in place.

Several local firefighters departed yesterday evening to help out, including two from Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue, three from West Thurston Regional Fire Authority and two from Thurston County Fire District 12.

Show and tell for law enforcement and fire service personnel draws moderate crowd

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015
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Lewis County Fire District 2 Firefighter Hadly Blankenship helped his three boys – Oliver, Kayden and Noah – into a brush truck.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

NAPAVINE – First responders.

The people on the front lines and behind the scenes when emergencies arise and someone calls 911 for help.

Representatives from Lewis County public safety agencies and organizations spent yesterday under sunny skies in a sort of show-and-tell.

For kids, it included invitations to climb behind the wheels of fire trucks, the sheriff’s office’s 48,000 pound armored SWAT and rescue vehicle and even into a shiny black and white 1940 Ford patrol car.

“These are all the people you would see if there was a large scale disaster here,” Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza said as he motioned toward those with the booths and vehicles that formed a horseshoe in the parking lot alongside Interstate 5.

The event, called First Responders Day, was held outside Bethel Church of the Assemblies of God in Napavine.

Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue, formerly known as Lewis County Fire District 5, had their extrication tools on display and hope next year to do an actual demonstration of cutting into a vehicle to get to the injured.

Lewis County Fire District 6 handed out plastic fire helmets and pencils reminding about the importance of smoke detectors. The state patrol gave out junior trooper sticker badges.

Among the demonstrations, were Sheriff’s Cmdr. Dusty Breen zapping a paper silhouette of a man with a Taser, and answering questions about how very thin wire and prongs make the connection when used.

The crowd got to watch a simulated police pursuit, complete with the “suspect” getting grabbed by a police dog after bailing out and running across a field.

Two search and rescue dogs, plus one in training, with the Lewis County-based Cascade Dogs were on hand.

Other participants included Human Response Network, the local Red Cross and the relatively new Lewis and Mason County Crime Victim Service Center. And more.

Lewis County Crime Stoppers was there to promote their program, and put together free ID kits for parents.

That was the first booth Leslie Hill of Toledo visited with her children, ages 6 and 4.

“I always get these updated every year,” Hill said, as she waited for photo identification cards, DNA swabs and fingerprints to take home.

Centralia Police Department’s SWAT team laid out the various tools of their work, including newer-style spike strips that would flatten a tire slowly if a suspect drove over it.

The four-hour event was winding down when a Life Flight helicopter and its three-person crew arrived from Longview.

“I’m pretty happy with the turnout,” organizer sheriff’s Sgt. Fred Wetzel said. He said he and other already have more ideas for next year.

A somewhat similar gathering is planned for Tuesday evening, with the Centralia Police Department’s National Night Out.

The department has traditionally participated in the nationwide annual community-police awareness-raising event by caravanning to various neighborhood Block Watch group gatherings.

This year, the department is inviting folks to come see them at Washington Park on Pearl Street from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Centralia police plan to offer opportunities to drive a golf cart wearing goggles that simulate drunk driving, and say there will be face painting, a balloon artist, a bounce house, live music and free hot dogs.

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Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Dusty Breen demonstrates use of a Taser for attendees at First Responders Day in Napavine.

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See lots more photos from the day on Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page

News brief: Grass fire threatens Rochester residences

Friday, July 31st, 2015
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Crews work to extinguish fire on Southwest Bonnie Lane  /  Courtesy photo by West Thurston Regional Fire Authority

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

West Thurston Regional Fire Authority reports five acres burned but the flames have been extinguished with no loss to structures.

Crews were called around 11:40 a.m. to the area along Southwest Bonnie Lane near School Land Road in Rochester.

They were joined by departments from as far away as Tenino.

Six homes, outbuildings and vehicles were threatened, according to the department’s post on Facebook moments ago.

Failed double crossing drug deal ends with prison for “seller”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
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•••

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 24-year-old who robbed a potential drug customer of $1,000 in Centralia last month – and kept the bag of salt he pretended was ecstasy – was sentenced today to just shy of 10 years in prison.

McRae D. Armstrong was in Lewis County Superior Court, where he pleaded guilty as charged a week after his arrest.

The incident at the end of June took place inside a car in the parking lot at Safeway on Harrison Avenue.

The Centralia Police Department had provided the money, as the buyer was a confidential informant and officers were conducting surveillance during the transaction. A short police pursuit ensued but Armstrong wasn’t located that day.

He admitted he used a firearm, and told the buyer-turned victim to get out of the car.

Armstrong pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, attempted eluding, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and  possession with intent to deliver an imitation controlled substance.

His lawyer Don Blair asked the judge for a mid-range sentence, noting his client accepted the deal basically within a day of getting the offer from the state.

“And the fact that he is here taking responsibility, literally within a week of court,” Blair said.

Pacific County Prosecutor Mark McClain recommended Armstrong be given 116 months on the first count – the top of the standard sentencing range – and lesser amounts for the other offenses to be served concurrently.

McClain was asked to handle the case, because of a potential appearance of a conflict. Armstrong’s father is a private investigator who often works on cases in Lewis County.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler gave Armstrong nine years and eight months.

The sentence also includes three years under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections when he is released and a requirement the defendant be evaluated for drug and alcohol abuse and follow through with the recommended treatment.

An 18-year-old Olympia woman has been charged in the case, as she was allegedly with Armstrong when it happened. A second male has been charged with rendering criminal assistance for allegedly helping Armstrong hide from police, according to McClain.
•••

For background, read “Teen driver for ecstasy drug deal-turned robbery booked” from Saturday June 27, 2015, here

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office investigating child assault, one arrested

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
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Chandra M. Munsey consults with a temporary defense attorney during her bail hearing on Monday afternoon.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 22-year-old arrested on Thursday was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with two counts of second-degree child assault, in a case involving her boyfriend’s toddlers.

The two little boys were taken into protective custody after their father called police and the children were checked out at Providence Centralia Hospital and then Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, according to their father Casiano Baldovinos.

Baldovinos is standing by his girlfriend, Chandra M. Munsey, and attended her bail hearing yesterday afternoon.

“I know that Chandra’s innocent,” Baldovinos said outside the courtroom.

Authorities have revealed little about the case, saying the investigation is ongoing.

Munsey was brought before a judge on Friday afternoon, when a prosecutor asked to have the documents detailing the allegations sealed. Judge James Lawler granted the request.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead indicated he wasn’t ready to file charges, and asked that Munsey continue to be held in the jail at least until another hearing after the weekend.

Munsey was brought before the judge again yesterday afternoon, after the criminal charges were filed, where defense attorney Joely O’Rourke asked the court to consider releasing her with an unsecured or co-signed bond.

“She has absolutely no felony history, and has a stable residence in Chehalis with her boyfriend,” O’Rourke said.

Judge Lawler set her bail at $50,000.

Baldovinos said his boys, ages 2 and 3, live with him in rural Chehalis. He’s cared for the oldest one nearly all his life, and last year at this time, got the court to make their mother’s family turn the youngest over to him.

He and their mother are not together, he said.

The boys’ grandmother, Rebecca Torres of Centralia, said she’s been warning authorities something bad could happen, since the day police came to take the youngest from her home.

“I’ve been trying for a year to keep them safe,” Torres said, sobbing.

Their mother is in prison, serving a sentence of a year and day for something Torres called petty. Jessica Schroeder, 27, should be getting out next month, her mother said. But Schroeder signed her youngest over to her mother when he was five months old, Torres said.

Exactly what happened remains under investigation, but photos shared by Torres and her 17-year-old daughter on social media last week show the two-year-old with a black and swollen eye. His brother’s picture shows marks on his face as well.

Baldovinos said the children stayed a couple of nights early last week with his girlfriend’s parents, in rural Centralia. When he picked them up, Munsey’s father told him the children scuffled, and one gave the other a black eye, he said.

But he didn’t believe that, he said, and he called police.

The court document filed yesterday that charges Munsey, indicates prosecutors believe the assaults occurred between Monday and Wednesday of last week.

Second-degree child assault is a class B felony, with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine. The offense involves recklessly inflicting substantial bodily harm upon a child younger than 13 years old.

Munsey’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court.

Prison awaits Toledo man who tried to catch possible burglar, with gun

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015
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Larry N. Bemrose waits in the jury box for a corrections officer to take him down to the Lewis County Jail following his sentencing.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 66-year-old Toledo resident who thought he was protecting his neighborhood when he pointed a shotgun at an 8-year-old boy and then the boy’s mother was sentenced yesterday for two felonies.

Larry N. Bemrose was arrested after the Nov. 7 incident  in the area of North Fifth Street in the South Lewis County town and charged with two counts of first-degree assault.

The woman, Finola Erickson, told police she’d just left a relative’s house in the area of Middle Crest Road and when she came to the stop sign, a pickup truck pulled a U-turn in front of her and blocked her, according to charging documents. She said a man she’d never seen before got out, approached with a rifle and pointed it at her son who was sitting in the passenger seat, and then walked around her side of the car and pointed it at her, charging documents relate.

Erickson took off in her yellow Neon and parked near Toledo High School, where she turned off her headlights to hide from the man and called 911.

It was an unfortunate incident of mistaken identity, Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told a judge yesterday.

Halstead, the defendant and the defendant’s lawyer were in Lewis County Superior Court after striking a plea deal.

Prosecutors reduced the charged to two counts of second-degree assault, to which Bemrose pleaded guilty earlier this past spring.

“Unfortunately for him, it was a mother with her child in the vehicle,” Halstead said.

Centralia defense attorney Don Blair said his client was witness to what he thought was a burglary to a neighbor’s home and when he approached what he thought was the suspect vehicle, they “threw it in reverse” so he went and retrieved his gun.

“Unfortunately for the woman and her son, the vehicles looked similar,” Blair said.

According to charging documents, Bemrose admitted to police at the time to confronting a sport utility vehicle and a Lincoln, but denied contacting the yellow Neon.

Blair told Judge Richard Brosey that when Bemrose first learned it was a different party, he broke down and cried in Blair’s office, realizing what the woman and her child must have gone through.

The standard sentencing range for the offense is 12 to 14 months in prison. The two lawyers agreed to recommend Bemrose be sentenced to 12 months and one day.

Judge Brosey agreed, and gave Bemrose 11 days credit for time spent in the Lewis County Jail.

As Lewis County Superior Court judges customarily tell defendants when they are convicted of felonies, he explained to Bemrose he’d lost his right to possess firearms, and lost his right to vote.

When he is released, he will be under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections for 18 months.
•••

For background, read “Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup – FROM THE COURTHOUSE” from Monday November 10, 2014, here

Suspected gunman in Centralia home invasion held on $500,000 bail

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015
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Hennessy R. Turner-White, 22, from Portland, was represented by temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke at his bail hearing in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The second of the three males believed to have barged in and shot up a Centralia residence demanding cash and weed earlier this year has been arrested.

Hennessy R. Turner-White was picked up in Clark County on a $500,000 arrest warrant.

The 22-year-old Portland resident will get his chance to make his plea tomorrow morning in Lewis County Superior Court.

Centralia police found nine shell casings and two bullet jacket fragments at the small home on Marion Street when they investigated the Feb. 19 incident. They also found one of the resident’s two dogs shot dead on the sidewalk.

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Marion Street, Feb. 19, 2015

Dustin Palermo and his girlfriend initially wondered if it could have been related to winning money at the casino the night before, but the police investigation pointed to a local teen who once helped trim Palermo’s pot plants.

Palermo had medical marijuana growing inside.

Brian A. Carreon, 17, of Centralia, was arrested last week, charged as an adult and is being held on $75,000 bail.

Turner-White was brought before a judge earlier this week, who left his bail at $500,000.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey noted police are still looking for the third suspect in Nevada.

The two currently housed in the Lewis County Jail are both charged with first-degree robbery. Turner-White is additionally charged with first-degree assault.

One of Carreon’s two sisters who live in Portland has been charged with rendering criminal assistance. Taina Duncan is accused of driving with the others to the house, but staying inside her car with her daughter.

According to charging documents, when Carreon was interviewed by police a second time told them he’d taken a video of himself once when he trimmed Palermo’s’ plants for him, and he’d shown it to Turner-White.

He said he was phoned by Turner-White who said he knew he had a connection to get weed, and was headed up.

“(When) they arrived at the Palermo’s residence, Hennessy pulled out a gun and said they weren’t going to buy the weed,” Carreon told police according to the charging documents.

Carreon told police they went to the door and he was behind them telling them to stop; that the third male kicked in the door, and that Turner-White shot the dog.

Charging documents in the case don’t relate what was actually stolen, but state they were only inside about 45 seconds based on Palermo’s security video.

Palermo described to police that one of the intruders was very tall, wearing a maroon hoodie and seemed to be in charge, doing a lot of the yelling. It appeared he had a black 9 mm or 45 semi-automatic handgun, according to Palermo.

Turner-White is Carreon’s other sister’s ex-boyfriend.

He grew up in Portland, according to his temporary defense attorney earlier this week. His mother was in the courtroom for his short hearing.

Judge Brosey appointed Centralia lawyer Don Blair to represent Turner-White.
•••

For background, read “Two arrested, two sought in February Centralia home invasion” from Thursday July 9, 2015, here

Winlock company loses $1 million, temporarily

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – More than $1 million worth of checks left in an unlocked desk in an unlocked office at a Winlock business last summer disappeared. But they were returned a couple of days later.

However, according to prosecutors, one of them in which the payee line had been left blank was written out and cashed for more than $16,000 by an individual who worked for Jake’s Fireworks for a day and a half.

Jake’s is a distributor of wholesale fireworks and a fireworks retailer on Nevil Road in Winlock.

Carlos D. Linares, now 21, reportedly sent an email to the company within weeks, and admitted he took the check and used the money, according to the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office.

When law enforcement spoke with Linares this spring, he allegedly said he chose the one check because it was the only one not made out to someone, that he put his name on it and had a relative cash it for him.

Linares was summonsed into Lewis County Superior Court yesterday, where he is charged with first-degree theft and forgery.

He’s unemployed and lives in Chehalis, the judge was told. Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said Linares has no criminal history,.

Judge Richard Brosey allowed him to remain out of jail pending trial on a $5,000 unsecured signature bond.

Charging documents in the case state the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office was contacted on July 9 of last year by the fireworks company.

An employee said she’d been contacted by a girl who returned several two-party checks made out to Jake’s.

The girl said she found the stack of checks in an envelope inside a backpack in a park, charging documents say.

She was engaged to Linares, and said she found them on July 7 and that he would have had access to them before she returned them on July 9, according to the allegations.

The stack of checks totaling more than $1 million were believed to have disappeared on July 8, the same day Linares is believed to have come into the office to be paid, according to charging documents.

It wasn’t until August 11, that the discovery was made that one of them had not been returned, and had been cashed for $16,040.51, according to the documents.

Linares’s arraignment is scheduled for July 30.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015
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•••

INJURY COLLISIONS

• A 28-year-old Packwood resident riding a dirt bike without a helmet was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after crashing yesterday. Deputies responding about 5:45 p.m. learned from witnesses the man was traveling along Elkhorn Drive in Packwood when he lost control and wrecked near Cannon Road and Holiday Lane, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Deputy Stacy Brown described his injuries as serious and the damage to the 2000 Kawasaki as minor. The sheriff’s office suspects alcohol was involved, according to Brown.

• A 51-year-old driver ended up with a possible broken hand or wrist when she wrecked yesterday afternoon, her Jeep Cherokee rolling end over end along the 400 block of Chilvers Road west of Chehalis. Deputies responding to the approximately 5 p.m. incident were told she was traveling westbound when her vehicle left the roadway and struck a raised driveway entrance, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The Bellevue woman had been wearing her seat belt; the vehicle was totaled, according to the sheriff’s office. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.

VEHICLE THEFT

• A white 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 pickup truck with Illinois plates was stolen sometime during the night from the 100 block of South Cedar Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 7:30 a.m. today.

CAR PROWL

• Centralia police were called about 8 p.m. yesterday about a vehicle prowl at the 700 block of Pioneer Way.

• Someone stole a tent from the back of a truck parked at the 800 block of South Silver Street. An officer called about 3:50 p.m. yesterday learned it must have occurred during the night.

• A vehicle was broken into and its stereo stolen on the 700 block of Bengal Court in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police were called at 10 a.m. yesterday to the 900 block of West Main Street to take a report an individual’s vehicle got spray painted.

BURNING BUSHES

• Firefighters were called about 6 o’clock yesterday evening when hedge trees caught fire in a planting bed at Applebee’s restaurant on Northwest Louisiana Avenue in Chehalis. It was near the road and likely was ignited from a cigarette butt, according to the Chehalis Fire Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarm, dispute, suspicious circumstances, vandalism, collision on city street … and more.

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Burning bushes along Northwest Louisiana Avenue. / Courtesy photo by Lori Cusson

Prosecutors: Winlock park shooter grew tired of ex-girlfriend disrespecting gang

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
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Joseph M. Lowery is charged with attempted first-degree murder in Lewis County Superior Court, an offense with a maximum penalty of life in prison.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The 20-year-old who grew up in Winlock is being held on $500,000 bail, accused of leaning into the bushes and taking aim with a pistol – from some 50 feet away – at his former girlfriend as she sat alone next to a stream in the woods.

Shyann Gallimore, also 20, was struck in the back with what authorities believe was a 22 caliber bullet.

But it could be as long as two weeks before the round is removed, and examined.

“It ricocheted off something, and lodged in my shoulder,” Gallimore said yesterday.

The young woman was taken by a friend to Providence Centralia Hospital where she was treated and sent home the same night. Gallimore is home in Winlock, where she lives with friends she said are taking care of her.

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Courtesy photo from Gallimore.

The incident took place on the outskirts of Winolequa Park in the South Lewis County community. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said it happened about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“This is a safety issue,” Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sara Beigh said as she addressed bail for the suspect yesterday afternoon.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey agreed the amount was appropriate.

The sheriff’s office reported the suspect had threatened violence before against the victim and made reference to an ongoing dispute.

Prosecutors in charging documents allege the suspect told deputies he had become tired of Gallimore disrespecting the “Juggalo family.”

Joseph M. Lowery is charged with attempted first-degree murder.

Prosecutors say he and a 16-year-old boy who was with him that evening admitted they are members of the Juggalo gang. And that on a previous occasion, Lowery had allegedly told the teen if he ever saw Gallimore in “his” woods, he would shoot her.

And that he would “put it on the hatchet,” a Juggalo term meaning promise, according to prosecutors.

Juggalo is a name used by fans of performance artists called the Insane Clown Posse. Federal law enforcement agencies identified Juggalos as a non-traditional type gang in 2011.

Whatever exactly the reason for the weekend shooting, temporary defense attorney Joely O’Rourke alluded to another possibility yesterday afternoon when the suspect was given a court appointed attorney.

“I suspect Mr. Arcuri will be asking for a mental health evaluation,” O’Rourke told the judge.

His mother was among those in the courtroom, to support him, O’Rourke said. And he has absolutely no criminal history, she said.

The sheriff’s office and charging documents give the following account of what took place:

Gallimore was at a mutual friend’s home on Limmer Road earlier on Saturday, and when she learned Lowery was headed there, she called a friend to pick her up near Winolequa Park to make sure she didn’t walk home alone. Gallimore was afraid of Lowery.

She walked to a trail leading to the park and was sitting down and on the phone with the friend when she heard a pop, felt pain in her back, reached around to touch and then found blood on her hand.

The friend, who Gallimore said is a roommate and like a little brother to her, took her to the hospital. That’s where deputies responded to learn what happened.

An X-ray revealed an object in her back consistent with a .22 caliber round. An injury near the middle of her back is consistent with a bullet wound.

When deputies located the 16-year-old later that night at a residence on Sears Road, he told them he and Lowery knew Gallimore was at Limmer Road and were on their way there, but as they got to the park, Lowery asked him for the .22 revolver in his backpack.

They went into the woods and as they walked up the trail they saw her, sitting next to the stream. The teen said Lowery told him to keep walking, and then Lowery leaned into the bushes and aimed the gun.

The teen said he heard a pop, he heard Gallimore yelling, and they ran away up a trail.

The 16-year-old, who also lives in Winlock, was booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center and yesterday, Judge Brosey found probable cause to hold him, as prosecutors requested, as an accomplice in the crime of attempted first-degree murder.

His bail was also was set at $500,000.

Prosecutors wanted more time to make a final decision, but the nature of the proposed potential charge, a class A felony, made it automatic the 16-year-old be handled in adult court, according to Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher.

However, today, Meagher said further review of the case indicated the more appropriate charges for the teen were only second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and tampering with evidence. And prosecutors decided not to charge him as an adult.

The charges were filed today.

The 16-year-old, who had been moved to the Lewis County Jail, went before Judge Brosey once again this afternoon, for a juvenile detention hearing.

Deputy Prosecutor Joel DeFazio and a juvenile probation officer urged the judge to continue to hold the teen until his arraignment.

A major concern is the gun has not been recovered, Judge Brosey was told.

The teen was to be sent back to the juvenile detention following the hearing. Court appointed attorney Shane O’Rourke is representing him

The teen’s arraignment is Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Lowery’s arraignment is Thursday at 10:40 a.m.
•••

For background, read “Sheriff’s Office: Winlock woman shot in back in park by ex, survives” from Monday July 20, 2015, here

Court cases stalled for Centralia man while mental evaluation sought

Saturday, July 18th, 2015
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Wellington M. Waggener hasn’t been back to Lewis County Superior Court since he threw himself over the half wall behind the defendant’s table shortly after this photo was taken on Wednesday afternoon.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A Centralia resident arrested three times in four days – twice for his alleged actions inside the jail – won’t be arraigned anytime soon.

Wellington M. Waggener, 26, is scheduled to return to court for a review next month.

He was to have the opportunity to make his pleas on Thursday morning to four felony charges, but the judge signed an order for a mental evaluation to be conducted by Western State Hospital.

The former Centralia College basketball player was booked into the Lewis County Jail after a Friday night incident in which a woman said she found him in her bed at a Centralia motel, touching her with his hands.

While being housed in the medical observation portion of the jail on Sunday, he allegedly spit on a corrections officer’s face as he was being served dinner.

Then on Tuesday morning, he allegedly threatened to kill two other of the officers, telling one of them that he would kill her if he saw her outside the jail and telling the other he wanted to slit his throat.

Defendants can’t be arraigned unless they are competent to understand the charges against them.

The judge had already noted at Waggener’s first appearance in Lewis County Superior Court that he was familiar with Waggener, and that he may need to be on some mental health treatment.

Then on Wednesday at his second bail hearing, the handcuffed and shackled  6-foot 9-inch tall defendant threw himself over the half wall that separates the public seating area from the front portion of the courtroom. Guards dragged him out of the courtroom.

It was about 18 months ago that jail staff left Waggener in a cell to suffer for more than five hours without any water for relief after an entire three-ounce can of pepper spray was discharged into his cell. Lewis County had a check for $300,000 delivered to his lawyer last month as a settlement regarding the incident.

The sergeant held responsible was fired.

According to charging documents in his newest case, at about 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Waggener became angry when told he couldn’t take a shower at that moment, and 40 minutes later tried to flood his cell.

He was still being held in the medical observation unit.

When a corrections officer responded, he allegedly said he would shoot her, he would kill her if he saw her on the streets. He acted like he had a rifle in his hand and told he’d like to see her head explode, charging documents state.

Charging documents go on to allege that when questioned, Waggener said they were not threats, but promises.

It was a few hours later when he allegedly told a jail sergeant that he wanted to slit his throat.

He asked the sergeant if that scared him, and the sergeant said no, charging documents state. He allegedly said it should, because when he was released, he would do it.

When Waggener was interviewed about it, he said he’d been asleep all day and made no threats.

He is currently charged with residential burglary with sexual motivation as well as custodial assault, for which his bail was set at $25,000. He is also charged with  two counts of felony harassment, for which bail was set at $50,000.

Waggener’s review hearing is on the court calendar for Aug. 8.
•••

For background, read:

• “Former Lewis County Jail inmate paid $300,000 for pepper spray abuse incident” from Wednesday July 15, 2015, here

• “Centralia man jailed after woman tells of waking up to stranger in her motel room bed” from Tuesday July 14, 2015, here

Surviving driver from fatal Onalaska wreck ordered to wear alcohol monitor while case pending

Friday, July 17th, 2015
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Three wooden crosses mark the roadside of Monday night’s collision. / Courtesy photo by Ayla Marie Withey

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The driver of the second vehicle in the Onalaska crash that killed three teens told the investigating trooper he’d drank a beer about five hours earlier, but his breath and his entire van smelled of alcohol, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Joseph W. Rogerson, 36, and his wife were returning home to Chehalis from getting a shovel at Cowlitz Timber Trails when they collided head on with a sport utility vehicle carrying eight young people on state Route 508 near Hyak Road.

The state patrol has said both vehicles crossed the centerline and the investigation is ongoing.

The Monday night tragedy has left a community grieving.

Wooden crosses have been placed beside the road at the scene and a vigil is set for tomorrow night, where organizers hope mourners will encircle the entire Carlisle Lake mill pond.

The state patrol’s initial reports indicated the black 2002 Land Rover Discovery was occupied by four 18-year-olds and four 13-year-olds from Onalaska and Chehalis.

However, the police report indicates slightly different ages.

Dead at the scene were the driver, Arnold W. Mullinax, 17, and Taylor N. Thompson, 12, both from Onalaska, according to Trooper Torson Iverson’s report.

Dakota L. Dunivin, 18, from Chehalis, died the following day at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. All the deaths were caused by blunt force trauma and listed as accidental.

Trooper Iverson writes he arrived shortly after 10 p.m. that night, and saw emergency lights ahead, and then a silver van partially blocking the westbound lane, and the Land Rover on its top in the center of the road.

The bulk of his report focuses on Rogerson, the driver of the Ford Freestar minivan.

The man was crying as he answered questions, and said he’d been doing CPR on someone for about five minutes. When asked if he was hurt, he said he didn’t know.

“Rogerson stated he was driving ‘and all of a sudden, it’s like, you just never think someone like you is going to be involved … all of a sudden bam’,” Iverson wrote.

Rogerson agreed to perform field sobriety tests, during which at some points he stumbled and also swayed from side to side, the trooper wrote. He declined a portable breath test.

From the beginning, the man told the trooper the other vehicle basically was in his lane, and that it ran into him

Three troopers located what they believed to be the point of impact, deep gouges in the roadway, right on the centerline, between the yellow lines that form the centerline, according to the report.

Rogerson, who mentioned the next day was his first day at work as a medical assistant, was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital by ambulance, where the trooper met him to have his blood drawn for testing.

The report does not include his blood alcohol level.

Rogerson was booked into the Lewis County Jail for driving under the influence on the instructions of his sergeant and the prosecutor, Iverson wrote.

The following day, Rogerson appeared in Lewis County District Court where he pleaded not guilty. A $5,000 appearance bond was posted on his behalf.

Among his conditions of release, is that he may not consume any alcohol or go into a bar. The court order stated he had to be equipped with a SCRAM – an alcohol monitor bracelet – before leaving the jail.

And he may not drive without an  ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle.

Rogerson was appointed Chehalis attorney Jacob Clark. His court file does not indicate when he will return to court.

The state patrol indicated the night of the accident that if the investigation reveals his driving is the cause of the collision, the charge could be elevated.
•••

For background, read “Two dead, at least three injured in head on crash in Onalaska” from Tuesday July 14, 2015, here