By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Five student-inmates from Green Hill School are charged with prison riot for an allegedly gang-related melee that broke out in the dining hall of the state juvenile incarceration facility in Chehalis.
The incident that occurred on Aug. 11 was investigated by the Chehalis Police Department and the suspects subsequently charged in Lewis County Superior Court. Four of them were brought before a judge yesterday afternoon.
Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joel DeFazio said the fifth defendant has since been transferred into the custody of the state Department of Corrections and would be transported to a court hearing on Friday.
“We want all five of them to be arraigned at the same time,” DeFazio told the judge.
Charging documents in the case include statements from six different staff members involved in breaking up the fighting. The attackers were described as Surenos and their targets Nortenos.
One staff member recounted that as dinner was ending, he saw nearly all the Maple A and B Wing residents moving, running and one even climbing over a divider wall to get near or assault rival residents on the other side. One of the staff was reportedly kicked in the face as he tried to protect a resident, according to the documents.
Green Hill School off Southwest 11th Street provides services to as many as 185 male youth incarcerated in the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration for a wide range of felony offenses. They range in age from 15 to 20 years old. A signifiant portion of youth held at Green Hill will finish their sentences in an adult prison.
Yesterday, Brian Mendoza-Laureano Zuniga, now 19, was brought to court via the Lewis County Jail from the state Department of Corrections where he has transferred since the event in August.
Three of them were brought to court from Green Hill School and were to return there after the hearing until their next court date. They are: Angel Flores, 19; Adrian Pimentel Jr., 20; and Juan D. Martinez-Sanchez, 19.
Pimentel is additionally charged with custodial assault, a crime with a maximum penalty of five years.
Not present was Eduardo Humberto Moreneo who is expected Friday.
Charging documents do not make note of what offenses the defendants are currently serving time for. The documents don’t give information about the alleged victims, such as their ages and make no mention of any injuries.
Prison riot is described as two or more inmates together using force, violence or threats of such to disturb the good order of the institution, contrary to commands of officers. It has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Authorities reached out to the Chehalis Police Department the following day, requesting contact about a “major youth disturbance” the night before.
The arraignments are scheduled for March 23.