Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

Centralia court security officer who fired upon escapee quits job

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Updated at 1:29 p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia Municipal Court Security Officer Stephen Howard submitted his resignation effective today, just days after Police Chief Bob Berg issued his report indicating Howard’s use of deadly force on a person fleeing detainment on a misdemeanor warrant was inappropriate.

Berg’s findings released Thursday regarding the mid-December incident made clear Howard should not have unholstered his gun, nor even left his post to pursue the 22-year-old Adna man.

Phillip Pinotti was struck by the broken glass from his car window, but not by the bullet that was later found on his passenger seat.

In a news release distributed this morning, Berg states the resignation means any personnel issues regarding the shooting are now closed.

The chief noted that he appreciates Howard’s service to the community and his long term commitment to the law enforcement profession.

“In terms of moving forward, there are lessons the department has learned regarding policies and procedures as well as training and documentation for individuals assigned to this duty,” Berg stated.

Howard, a retired California Highway Patrol officer, had been employed by the city for just short of four months when the incident occurred. He worked one day each week, as a limited commission officer.

A review by the county prosecutor found Howard’s firing of his weapon was not unlawful, but an internal shooting review board concluded it was a violation of department policy.

Howard said he fired his gun once because he thought Pinotti was trying to run him down with his car, but the prosecutor, the shooting review board and the police chief, in varying degrees, indicated they didn’t believe that’s what happened.

It was the morning of Dec. 16 when Pinotti slipped away as Howard was handcuffing him in Centralia Municipal Court and ran to the next block where his car was parked on Maple Street, got inside of it and locked his door. Witnesses described Howard striking the window with his gun, something Howard said he didn’t recall happening.

Chief Berg wrote in his determination last week, that based on the physical evidence, such as the trajectory of the bullet and statements from witnesses, it was quite possible the gun’s discharge was accidental.

Howard was put on administrative leave while the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office investigated the shooting. Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer issued his conclusions on Jan. 7.

The internal review board – called both the Use of Force Review Board and the Shooting Review Board – met on Jan. 13 and forwarded its recommendations to the police chief on Jan. 23.

Berg said Howard returned to work on Jan. 20, following the completion of the criminal investigation by the prosecuting attorney.

Pinotti pleaded guilty to third-degree escape and two related misdemeanors on Jan. 14.

Last Thursday when the chief issued his determinations about Howard’s actions, he noted a personnel decision would be made after a discussion with Howard; it’s not clear whether the two talked before Howard submitted his resignation.

Berg says the department will begin the process of selecting a replacement for the position.

In his short statement, Berg included:

“It is paramount that the public we serve have confidence in their police department, both in terms of the actions we take in performing our duties, as well as the manner in which those actions are reviewed.”
•••

For background, read “Chief Berg: Shooting at fleeing man was outside police department policy” from Thursday February 5, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Updated at 3:25 p.m.

BAT THREAT ALLEGED

• A 49-year-old Centralia man was arrested for second-degree assault last night after he allegedly threatened his girlfriend with a bat. Terry R. Griffis was booked into the Lewis County Jail following the approximately 11:30 p.m. incident at the 2400 block of Seward Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department. He is being released without any criminal charge filed pending further investigation.

UNRULY PEOPLE

• Centralia police arrested a 42-year-old homeless man yesterday evening for allegedly trying to start fights with several people at the 1200 block of Alder Street. Michael A. Kauer was booked into the Lewis County Jail for disorderly conduct, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 24-year-old Centralia man approached by a deputy responding to a report of a dispute reportedly used threatening language and clenched his fists so he was detained with the use of a Taser on Friday morning at the 100 block of Centralia-Alpha Road, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office reports that after Cruz D. Chamberlin was cuffed and put into a patrol car he spit on the door and elsewhere, causing it to be taken out of service for sanitation. Chamberlin was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree malicious mischief and other charges are being suggested, such as harassment, trespassing and disorderly conduct. Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said Chamberlin slapped a female who had been telling him to settle down and she was arrested as well for a warrant.

FELINE ATTACKED

• Chehalis police were called on Friday afternoon to  report a cat was killed by neighbor dogs on Southwest Chehalis Avenue. The incident is under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

BB DANGER

• A case involving two juveniles was referred to prosecutors for charges of reckless endangerment after they allegedly shot BBs through the window of a business at the 100 block of Second Street in Morton while customers were inside on Saturday.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police yesterday morning took a report of a vehicle stolen overnight and then learned it had been discovered abandoned and was impounded, in connection with an address on the 300 block of North Diamond Street, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• A 31-year-old Chehalis man was arrested for a warrant and also for possession of methamphetamine following contact with police about 3:35 .m. today at Tower Avenue and Main Street in Centralia. Aaron D. Skidmore was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 25-year-old Centralia man getting arrested for outstanding warrants about 1:30 p.m. yesterday was also arrested for possession of methamphetamine when a glass pipe with a crystalline substance was found in his pants pocket. Travis C. Harris was contacted at the 600 block of West Main Street in Centralia and then booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

• A 19-year-old Kelso resident was arrested very early yesterday morning for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, according to the Centralia Police Department. Taven B Albright was booked into the Lewis County Jail in a case associated with the 700 block of Harrison Avenue in Centralia, according to police. Prosecutors declined to file a criminal charge.

GOLDILOCKS

• Chehalis police were called to a vacant home where it appears someone has been staying at the 700 block of Southwest McFadden Avenue. Nothing appeared to be missing, following the Friday morning discovery, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

VANDALISM

• Police were called yesterday afternoon about a tire on a vehicle getting slashed while its owner was shopping at the 1200 block of Lum Road in Centralia.

COLLISIONS

• A 15-year-old girl on a dirt bike and a 15-year-old boy on an ATV collided at the 100 block of Lincoln Creek Road yesterday. They and a 14-year-old passenger were all ejected but were all wearing helmets, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy was responding to a complaint of teens racing around Galvin at about 2:30 p.m. and learned they had been looking for a friend, according to the sheriff’s office. The three were taken to the hospital for possible injuries and their parent notified, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. Both drivers were to be cited for reckless driving, Brown said.

• Police responded about 9:10 p.m. yesterday when a pedestrian was struck by a slowly moving vehicle at the 1200 block of Harrison Avenue. in Centralia. The victim sustained a minor injury, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 54-year-old Toledo man was arrested early yesterday morning for driving under the influence after he caused major damage to his car when it left the roadway at the 5600 block Jackson Highway near Toledo and got stuck in a ditch, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports. Frank Bertucci was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, failure to transfer vehicle title; responses for alarms, dispute, hit and run, suspicious circumstances, possible overdose, misdemeanor theft … and more.

News brief: Fire consumes farm house, pet presumed deceased

Sunday, February 8th, 2015
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Firefighters send a stream of water into the flames at the 200 block of Taylor Road. / Courtesy photo by Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A two-story farm house south of Chehalis burned to the ground yesterday; the cause is under investigation.

“The house is a total loss,” Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue Chief Gregg Peterson said. “We were there probably four hours on the scene, and returned throughout the night.”

Peterson said nobody was hurt and the residents were not home, but their dog was, and is presumed dead.

His crews were joined by members of Lewis County Fire District 6 and 1 in answering the approximately 4 p.m. call to the  200 block of Taylor Road, he said. Newaukum Valley Fire and Rescue is the new name for Lewis County Fire District 5.

They got numerous calls from neighbors and found the structure pretty well involved in flames when they arrived, Peterson said. Several explosions were presumed to be propane tanks and ammunition in the house going off, he said.

“There were no hydrants in the area, so it had to be done with tenders,” he said.

Peterson said he understood from the owner it was the original home on Taylor Road. The residents, who he believed to be three people, two of them brothers, lost everything, he said.

The residents and the Red Cross have been in touch with each other, he said.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

CAR SHOT UP IN CENTRALIA

• Centralia police responded about 2 o’clock this morning to a parked car that was fired upon at the 1200 block of Mellen Street. Police report the vehicle was shot five times by an individual they have identified. The case was referred over to detectives for further investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

THEFT IN CENTRALIA

• A battery and propane were stolen from an RV at the 800 block of West Third Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 3:30 p.m. yesterday.

FINGER RESCUE

• Chehalis firefighters stayed behind after a male was injured trying to jump a fence yesterday evening behind Home Depot to retrieve his index finger. It was around 6:20 p.m. when they were called and medics took the patient to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. They found it in the cyclone fence, used a saw to cut a section of fence around it, and then took it over to the emergency room so hopefully it could be reattached, Fire Capt. Rob Gebhart said.

STRUCTURE FIRE SOUTH OF CHEHALIS

• Firefighters responded to a house fire about 4 p.m. today south of Chehalis. Nobody was home and nobody was hurt, according to Lewis County Fire District 6. District 6 Firefighter Greg Folwell said they assisted District 5 with the blaze. The structure on the 200 block of Taylor Road was fully involved in flames when they arrived, Folwell said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, trespass, reckless burning, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for misdemeanor theft, collisions on Centralia city streets including a two-car minor accident around 12:30 p.m. yesterday at the 1700 block of South Gold Street; a three-vehicle accident about 12:45 p.m. at Harrison Avenue at High Street; and a two-vehicle accident about 3:20 p.m. on the 1100 block of South Gold Street … and more.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Updated at 1:54 p.m.

GUN THREAT LANDS MAN IN JAIL

• A 22-year-old Chehalis area man was arrested last night after he allegedly said during a dispute with a woman outside a home on the 200 block of Clinton Road he was going to shoot her current boyfriend in the head. The 32-year-old boyfriend told deputies he was inside the residence, could hear the remarks and was in fear the threat was going to be carried out, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies responding just before 9 p.m. were told by another individual they had seen John R. Estes III holding a 9 mm pistol in his hand, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said this morning. Estes was located outside a home on the 400 block of Spooner Road, unarmed, and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Brown. Brown did not say why Estes was upset.

VIRTUAL THREAT LANDS BOY IN LOCKUP

• Centralia police arrested a teenage boy on Wednesday night for cyberstalking, after he allegedly threatened on the Internet to kill someone. Further details were not readily available, although the case is associated with an address on the 1500 block of Lewis Street in Centralia.

ATTEMPTED CONVERSATION GETS MAN JAILED

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning they arrested a 46-year-old man who allegedly early on Wednesday morning crawled through a window of a residence in Toledo where a woman and her six children had a protection order against him. Joel Harger, of Rochester, said he wanted to talk, a deputy was told. Harger subsequently turned himself in and was booked into the Lewis County Jail for residential burglary, according to the sheriff’s office.

VIOLENCE AND THEFT

• Centralia police were called yesterday afternoon to a motel on the 1000 block of Eckerson Road where a boyfriend allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and took her debit card. The boyfriend is being sought for questioning for robbery, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 26-year-old homeless man was arrested for second-degree robbery yesterday after he allegedly fought with store security who attempted to detain him for shoplifting. Police responded about 5:35 p.m. to the 500 block of South Tower Avenue and subsequently booked Martin A. Ridinger into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

THEFT IN CENTRALIA

• A home on the 1000 block of Eckerson Road in Centralia was burglarized, according to a report made to police about 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

• Police were called about 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday to the 1200 block of Elm Street in Centralia where a garage was broken into.

FRAUD IN CHEHALIS

• Chehalis police were contacted yesterday by a cardholder alleging fraudulent purchases associated with a location on Northwest State Avenue. An officer is waiting for further information, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police took a report yesterday afternoon of a vehicle prowl on Southwest Third Avenue in which medication and a CD case were missing.

FROM THE COURTHOUSE

• A Centralia father accused of shoving his 6-year-old child’s head into a wall pleaded guilty yesterday to a lesser charge, in a negotiated plea agreement. Aaron R.J. Zucati will be sentenced on Feb. 11 in Lewis County Superior Court. Zucati made a so-called Alford plea to fourth-degree assault, not admitting guilt but agreeing if a judge or jury read and believed the prosecutor’s version of events, it would be highly likely he would be found guilty. Zucati, 33, was charged in November with third-degree assault of a child following an investigation by Centralia police. Prosecutors alleged he shoved the little girl’s head into the wall, angry because she and her four siblings were talking and not just eating dinner quietly. Police found a hole in the wall Zucati said came from the child’s elbow. Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told the judge yesterday that while the other children’s version of what occurred remained pretty consistent, the 6-year-old said her head was slammed against the wall 10 times and later said it was one time. Halstead also noted numerous issues behind the scenes between Zucati and the mother with allegations of manipulation of the children. Fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

FIRE INVESTIGATION

• The cause of a fire last week at Winlock home remains under investigation. Firefighters called about 12:45 p.m. a week ago Wednesday to the 400 block of Northwest Columbia Avenue found fire in an area of a garage converted to living quarters, according to authorities. “We got a pretty good knock down and that helped, but there was a lot smoke damage,” Firefighter Patrick Jacobson said. Winlock Police Department Chief Terry Williams said he’s still waiting to hear back from the investigator as to what ignited the fire.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for misdemeanor theft; responses for alarms, misdemeanor domestic assault, shoplifting and other misdemeanor theft, collisions on city streets and county roads … and more.

Chief Berg: Shooting at fleeing man was outside police department policy

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Updated at 9:24p.m.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Centralia Police Chief Bob Berg has concluded it was a violation of department policy when Centralia Municipal Court Security Officer Steve Howard fired upon the 22-year-old Adna man who fled an attempted misdemeanor warrant arrest in December.

In his findings released this afternoon, Berg makes clear it was not reasonable to pursue Phillip Pinotti, or for Howard to unholster his weapon.

Howard said he fired his gun once because he thought Pinotti was trying to run him down with his car.

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Centralia Municipal Court

Berg writes that given Howard’s self-described position in relation to the car, it would have impossible for the vehicle to strike him.

Whether Howard keeps his job hasn’t yet been decided, according to the chief.

Berg made his determinations following receiving the  recommendations of an internal shooting review board. The Lewis County prosecutor already found last month that Howard’s actions were legal under the laws of the state of Washington.

The shooting review board concluded: “While Officer Howard’s discharge of his weapon may have been lawful, the board found that it was not an appropriate application of force.”

“Further it was clear that reasonable alternatives to the use of deadly force existed,” the board wrote.

Berg agreed, and wrote the use of deadly force by a police officer is one of the most serious and potentially life-changing events an officer will ever face. That is why departmental policies are much more restrictive than state law, he wrote.

It was the morning of Dec. 16 when the Adna man was being handcuffed at the end of a hearing in Centralia Municipal Court.

Pinotti was there for arraignment on a charge of driving under the influence, and the judge had seen he was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant for failing to appear in Chehalis Municipal Court, in connection with a third-degree theft and ordered he be taken into custody.

Pinotti slipped away from the court security officer and ran to the next block where his car was parked on Maple Street.

The accounts of what happened next come from court documents in which Pinotti was initially charged with first-degree assault – although that charge was subsequently dropped – and also from Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer’s analysis of Howard’s actions.

Officer Howard gave repeated commands to Pinotti to stop and surrender. Pinotti got into his car, and locked the door.

The car either lurched forward or it didn’t and Pinotti put the vehicle in reverse and backed down Maple Street at a high rate of speed. Only Officer Howard spoke of the car lurching forward.

Pinotti thought Howard had swung his gun twice into his window breaking it; he didn’t hear a gunshot and didn’t know the gun was fired until he spoke with others later.

Howard didn’t recall doing that; he stated he tried to open the door with his left hand, and as the vehicle began to move, he stepped back and fired, according to Berg.

Chief Berg wrote that based on the physical evidence, such as the trajectory of the bullet and statements from witnesses, it’s quite possible the gun’s discharge was accidental.

“This is not to question the veracity of Officer Howard,” Berg wrote. “Rather it is an acknowledgement that memory is not exact as evidenced by varying accounts of the incident from the perspective of witnesses interviewed.”

Chief Berg went on to describe how an officer striking a vehicle’s window with a gun is dangerous and inappropriate, as well as how trying to open a car door with one hand while holding a firearm in the other is also a questionable tactic.

The shooting review board also recommended to the chief a modification to an existing policy regarding foot pursuits, with which the chief agreed.

Berg wrote: “(W)hile it would seem to be a matter of common sense, there is no language to specifically indicate that officers should consider the seriousness of the predicate offense in deciding whether to initiate or continue a foot pursuit.”

Howard has a limited commission, handling courtroom security for the city. The retired California Highway Patrol officer had been working for the city for just short of four months when the incident occurred.

Current Centralia Police Department policy says whenever an individual is remanded into custody, the court security officer should whenever possible call upon another officer to do that.

Berg indicated he would modify that to expressly prohibit the court security officer from leaving the post to pursue an escapee.

The chief also wrote that Howard’s training for his assigned duties was sufficient, but acknowledged the sessions should be formally documented and made part of the training file.

He also wrote the court security officer ought to be required to complete the same written examination on use of force policies as the regular police officers.

In his summary, Berg noted Pinotti was a known misdemeanor suspect who posed no immediate threat to the officer or the public.

While stating it would have been impossible for the vehicle to strike Howard when it moved, Berg wrote that Howard’s belief, was probably sincere, but was not objectively reasonable.

Berg ended by writing the final disposition of the incident as a personnel matter would be determined after discussion with Officer Howard.

Pinotti wasn’t injured by the bullet that was found on the passenger seat of his car, but his face was cut from glass fragments.

He was found the following day hiding at a friend’s residence in Chehalis, and charged with first-degree assault – for allegedly trying to run down Howard – and with third-degree escape and with tampering with evidence, for having friends hide his car.

Elected Prosecutor Meyer subsequently dropped the first-degree assault charge, concluding there was no intent on the part of Pinotti to injure the officer, he was only trying to get away.

Pinotti pleaded guilty last month to three misdemeanors in connection with the case. He has since also pleaded guilty to two felony drug charges that arose after the shooting.

Read Berg’s findings and determinations here

•••

For background, read “Charge of assault that prompted officer to shoot, dropped for Adna resident” from Thursday January 8, 2015, here

News brief: Service station worker interrupts attempted theft of ATM machine in Adna

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A gas station employee arriving to open up early this morning outside of Chehalis discovered someone inside trying to bust open an ATM machine.

As she pulled into the parking lot, and noticed a broken window, a male jumped out the window and took off, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

It happened just before 3 a.m., Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.

A search of the area and a track by the Chehalis police dog failed to turn up the burglar, according to Brown. Deputies are working on getting surveillance images, Brown said.

The Hillcrest 76 Gas Station sits on the corner of state Route 6 and   Highway 603 in Adna.

Brown said the male ran west on state Route 6 and it is believed he may have jumped into the Chehalis River to get away.

Deputies found a sledge hammer and crowbar left behind, and concluded that when he could not break open the machine, he dragged it over to the broken window, on the state Route 6 side of the building.

That’s when the worker showed up, according to Brown.

Brown is asking anyone with information about the incident to contact the sheriff’s office or Lewis County Crime Stoppers.

Wrong “gang aggravator” gets Centralia man new, shorter sentence

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – An appeals court reversed an exceptionally long sentence given to a purported Centralia gang member and remanded the case for resentencing within the standard range.

Joshua Rhoades was convicted by a jury of second-degree assault in the spring of 2013 for fight on a Centralia street in which a 17-year-old boy was knocked unconscious. Rhoades, then 32 years old, was given nearly the 10 year maximum, allowed because of a special gang finding by the jury.

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Joshua Rhoades at 2013 sentencing hearing.

The opinion issued yesterday states that prosecutors did not provide constitutionally sufficient notice of their intent to seek an exceptional sentence.

The standard sentencing range is 65 to 82 months.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler imposed  10 months less than 10 years, and ordered 10 months of supervision by the state Department of Corrections upon Rhoades’ release.

The three-member panel of the Court of Appeals Division II found the language regarding the aggravating circumstance alleged in the charging document was different from that given to the jury in their instructions.

“The Washington and federal constitutions entitle criminal defendants to adequate notice of the nature and cause of the accusation, so that they may prepare a defense,” wrote Judge Thomas R Bjorgen who authored the opinion.

Rhoades and his appeals lawyer contended the court submitted to the jury an aggravating circumstance instruction, that Rhoades committed the crime with the intent to benefit a criminal street gangs, while the circumstance alleged in the information was that Rhoades committed the crime to obtain or maintain membership or advance his position in an identifiable group.

“On its face, then, the substitution of one aggravator for the other resulted in inadequate notice that likely prejudiced the defendant’s ability to prepare a defense,” Bjorgen wrote.

Judges Bradley A. Maxa and Rich Melnick concurred.

Prosecutors said during his trial that Rhoades jumped out of a car, flashing gang signs and asking the teen and his two friends if they knew who he was and if they were  rival “Nortenos”. The teenager Dustin McLean testified Rhoades held a closed knife in his fist as he struck him. Prosecutors told the jury Rhoades was well known to Centralia police, who said he was the leader of the LVL .

LVL stands for Little Valley Locos or Little Valley Lokotes a gang locally made up mostly of individuals who grew up in Centralia when it was particularly active in the summer of 2007. Police say Rhoades goes by the street name Spooker.

In his appeal, Rhoades submitted several additional claims for review which the appeals judges either rejected or declined to review.

The appeals document shows he is housed at Clallam Bay Corrections Center.

Rhoades was represented at trial by Chehalis defense attorney Chris Baum, a former deputy prosecutor. The state’s case was presented by Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke who is now a defense attorney.
•••

For background, read “Centralia’s “Spooker” gets extra prison time for assault due to gang affiliation from Wednesday July 10, 2013, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Updated at 11:58 a.m.

ANOTHER ELDERLY PERSON VICTIMIZED BY PHONE FRAUD

• A 91-year-old Toledo area woman was suckered out of $28,000 before a family member discovered someone had been phoning her and claiming she’d won a lottery worth a half million dollars, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning. Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said the incidents took place between mid-December and yesterday, and the woman had been told she needed to send money, which she did five times. The family was able to intercept two checks for $10,000, Brown said. The family closed the woman’s checking account and changed her phone number, Brown said. Local law enforcement has been urging the public to be proactive and take time to educate and inform their older family members about the various schemes, as there has been an increase in such scams in Lewis County.

MORE FRAUD

• Chehalis police are investigating a possible fraud case in which a female has been getting notifications of purchases she did not make. It was reported yesterday, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

AUTO THEFT

• A white 1997 Honda Civic was stolen from the 600 block of M Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police about 4 p.m. yesterday. The car has a license plate reading AJN 9380, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police were called yesterday by an individual whose cell phone was possibly stolen from their vehicle while parked at Wal-Mart.

CLOSE CALL ON BRIDGE

• Centralia police report that two vehicles struck mirrors while passing on the North Pearl Street bridge near Reynolds Avenue about 8 p.m. last night and one of them continued on without stopping.

MAN AIRLIFTED AFTER CRASHING INTO TREE

• A driver was injured when he was ejected in a single-vehicle rollover accident yesterday afternoon in Grand Mound. Firefighters called about 3:30 p.m. report the car collided with a tree near James Road and Denmark Street. The lone occupant, an adult male, was airlifted out of Rochester High School, according to West Thurston Regional Fire Authority. Department spokesperson Lt. Lanette Dyer said she believed the man was being flown to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, but they may have diverted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

ELK VERSUS PICKUP TRUCK

• Two men were reportedly uninjured when their vehicle collided with two elk yesterday on U.S. Highway 12 just east of Packwood. Deputies responded about 5:45 p.m. to the scene where the 2013 Toyota Tundra sustained major damage, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The driver, a 38-year-old Longview man, was traveling eastbound when the elk ran into the road, according to the sheriff’s office. Both men had been wearing their seat belts, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. The driver was cited for no valid operators license.

LOG TRUCK LOSES LOADED TRAILER

• A 35-year-old log truck driver from Pe Ell man escaped with only minor injuries and a citation when his trailer disconnected from his truck yesterday afternoon north of Winlock. The 1993 Kenworth was traveling along the 300 block of Pleasant Valley Road when the coupling device malfunctioned, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The incident caused the loaded trailer to go into the ditch and the truck to rollover, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said. Firefighters responding around 2 p.m. report he had only minor injuries. The sheriff’s office reports he was uninjured. The man was cited for defective equipment and the truck and trailer, both totaled, were taken out of service, Brown said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault; responses for alarms, collisions on city streets, motorcycle wreck on county road … and more.

News brief: State patrol concerned about crash photos posted online

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Troopers are asking social media users to think twice before sharing pictures or information about tragic incidents on the roadways.

Social media has become an important part of everyday life, but in the case of serious collisions the consequences of posting photos include the possibility someone may learn of the death of a family member under less than ideal circumstances, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Trooper Will Finn last month wrote of a case in which a Randle woman arrived at the scene of her husband’s fatal collision with a semi truck on U.S. Highway 12 after reading about the wreck on Facebook.

Troopers were stunned and extremely concerned for her emotional well being, according to Finn.

“Troopers were faced with the difficult task of telling Mrs. Sume her husband had died while she looked at the wreckage of the scene,” Finn wrote.

Trooper Finn is the designated spokesperson for the state patrol in Southwest Washington.

Finn says the task of notifying family members of a loved one’s passing is already difficult and painful and under ordinary circumstances, part of their job includes working to help bring comfort to a grieving family in various ways.

“The comfort may be given by staying with a wife who is home alone until a friend or family member can be with them,” Finn  writes. “The comfort may also be given by answering a specific question about the investigation.”

If a family learns of their loss via social media, those opportunities can be lost, according to Finn.

The Jan. 4 wreck near Randle in which 52-year-old Jay E. Sume was killed isn’t the first time social media has made a bad situation worse, according to Finn.

Roughly a year earlier, a Vancouver woman unknowingly tweeted her own husband’s death and subsequently began asking questions through social media to confirm her suspicions, Finn writes.

Last spring also in Vancouver, a motorist trying to capture images of troopers investigating a deadly wreck for social media caused a second accident that resulted in serious injuries.

Finn acknowledges the important role social media has, in informing the public of impending dangers and offering critical information during significant events. But he asks people to think before posting, to think of the family that could be affected by the words or photos shared.

His suggestion is that tweeting or posting just bare facts is sufficient, such as “Road closed, use alternate route.”

Finn says the state patrol at times shares pictures with the public via social media. He says they don’t post photos until families have been notified.

Grand Mound: Five hour standoff results in arrests for stolen vehicle, warrants

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Updated

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Two Thurston County men were taken into custody after an hours long standoff in Grand Mound today that began with a stolen vehicle spotted in a driveway by a deputy.

Steven D Pierce, 37, was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant out of Centralia Municipal Court and has been booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to authorities.

Harry I. Richcreek, 42, was booked into the Thurston County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle, and was said to have a felony warrant out of California for auto theft, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

The incident began about 8:30 a.m. when a sheriff’s deputy responded to a call from a neighbor who reported seeing activity throughout the night at a home thought to be vacant, according to the sheriff’s office.

When the deputy arrived to the 19100 block of Apricot Street Southwest, he saw a man get out of a vehicle and go inside and a check on its license plate showed it was stolen in Lacey on Saturday, according to Lt. Cliff Ziesemer.

Ziesemer said in a news release that other deputies responded to assist, and after numerous attempts to contact the people inside, two women came out.

The sheriff’s office learned the man was wanted for car theft in California, was armed with a pistol, and a second man was with him, according to Ziesemer. They also learned the women were a mother and daughter who rented the home, and the men were friends of the daughter, according to Ziesemer.

“Repeated attempts were made to have the two remaining people exit the house but (we) received no response,” Ziesemer stated.

The Thurston County SWAT team was activated, and after many more tries to coax the men out, the team made entry at about 1:25 p.m., the lieutenant wrote.

Pierce was found hiding in a bedroom and Richcreek refused to come out from the crawl space beneath the mobile hime, according to the sheriff’s office. Ziesemer said a police dog went in and forced him out.

Richcreek ended up with bite wounds to his buttocks, and although he struck the police dog Rex while they tussled, the dog was unhurt, according to Ziesemer.

No gun was located, he said.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

RECKLESS WRECK

• A 32-year-old Centralia man was cited for reckless driving after he reportedly struck an oncoming car while trying to pass along the 2200 block of Harrison Avenue yesterday evening. in Centralia. Deputies called at 6:20 p.m. were told that James M. Sedrick was making unsafe passes and may have sideswiped another vehicle before the accident, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. A witness said when Sedrick tried to pass another vehicle he attempted to get back into his lane, but there wasn’t enough room, according to the sheriff’s office. Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said his 1996 Suzuki Swift and the 1999 Honda Accord were both totaled. He, as well as the three occupants of the Honda, were all wearing seat belts, Brown said. All four went to the emergency room at Providence Centralia Hospital, according to Brown. None of the injuries were described as serious.

BURGLARY

• Centralia police were called about 1:30 p.m. yesterday regarding a break-in to a business not currently occupied at the 800 block of North Tower Avenue. The owner is compiling a list of missing property, according to the Centralia Police Department.

DRUGS

• Suspected methamphetamine was found in the pocket of a shoplifting suspect last night at a Centralia Outlet store on the 100 block of West High Street in Centralia, according to police. JoAnne C. Ackley, 31, of Elma, was contacted about 6:50 p.m., found to have a stolen item and was subsequently booked into the Lewis County Jail for possession of methamphetamine,  according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence; responses for suspicious circumstances, misdemeanor theft, broken windows, a vehicle getting “keyed” … and more.

News brief: Low interest loans available for January flood victims

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  Low-interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are available for those impacted by the flooding last month.

The SBA offers up to $200,000 for homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, according to the agency. Renters and homeowners both are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Also, businesses of any size and most non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.

The SBA indicates in a news release that interest rates can be as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations, and 1.938 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

The SBA acted under its own authority to make the disaster declaration last week, following a request from Gov. Jay Inslee.

The SBA can also lend additional funds to homeowners and businesses to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future. Other kinds of loans can help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster, and are available regardless of whether a business suffered any property damage.

The declaration makes assistance available for those affected by severe storms, flooding and landslides from Jan. 3 to Jan. 6 in Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties.

Heavy precipitation and rising snow levels caused minor flooding on January 5 around Lewis County.

The deadline for most of the applications is March 30. The following are several places to get information:

• Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

• A Disaster Loan Outreach Center was set to open yesterday in heavily impacted Aberdeen at Grays Harbor County District Court, 2109 Sumner Ave., where individuals can ask question and get help filling out applications.

• Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling 1-800-659-2955 or emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call 1-800-877-8339. For more information about SBA’s disaster assistance programs, visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster

• Additional questions can answered by Lewis County Emergency Management at 360-740-1151.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Flood damage scattered and limited” from Friday January 9, 2015, here

Numerous Centralia College athletes suspended after underage party

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Twenty-one Centralia College athletes are suspended for the season and seven others received lesser punishments for an off-campus alcohol and marijuana party that ended with a fight and numerous arrests for underage drinking.

Centralia police responded to a report of a large fight in front of a home on Earl Street about 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 and subsequently arrested 40 people between the ages of 18 and 20 for minor in possession and/or consumption of alcohol.

Police said several student athletes hosted the gathering for their peers; the hosts were under 21 and had been drinking. Two 17-year-old girls got in trouble for the same offense, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Centralia College Athletic Director Bob Peters said today the student athletes were disciplined based on their code of conduct and team rules.

The suspensions hit the men’s baseball team especially hard with 11 of them out for the season, according to Peters.

“If this had happened a month from now, that would have been half the team,” he said.

Typically this time of year, they still have 30 to 35 individuals in baseball, and haven’t yet finalized their roster, he said.

In a news release issued on Friday, the college noted its investigation revealed 28 of their athletes attended the party, representing five different athletic programs but not all consumed alcohol. One of the two individuals who got into the fight was a college athlete, according to the news release.

The coaches recommended the discipline and the college administration concurred.

The full season suspensions also included five from the women’s softball team, two from the women’s volleyball team, one from the women’s basketball team and two from the men’s basketball team, according to Peters.

Seven other athletes were given suspensions of at least one game and up to 10 games, according to the college.

Robert Cox, vice president of student services, indicated they take situations like this very seriously.

“We hope that during the time of the suspensions the athletes will move ahead with a renewed focus on academics, athletics, and most importantly positive citizenship,” Cox stated.

All 28 will be required to complete an alcohol assessment, participate in alcohol abatement education provided by the college and engage in 10 hours of community service, according to Peters. He said they will ask the other athletes in the programs to participate, but it won’t be mandatory.

College President Robert Frost called it an unfortunate incident and told his colleagues the students deserved praise for their honesty and for taking immediate responsibility.

Centralia police the night after the party arrested a 20-year-old Chehalis resident for second-degree assault in connection with the fight, alleging he punched the other male in the face several times, breaking his nose. The suspect was booked into the Lewis County Jail but released the following day with no charges filed.
•••

For background, read “Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup – COLLEGE PARTY ENDS WITH NUMEROUS ARRESTS from Sunday January 25, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Updated at 3:10 p.m.

LOST AND FOUND ALERT

• Somebody lost a bunch of money at the Twin City Town Center and one honest citizen picked up what was left of it, according to the Chehalis Police Department. A 25-year-old Centralia woman called police about 2 p.m. yesterday to turn in cash that had been blowing around in the parking lot near Grocery Outlet at the 1300 block of Louisiana Avenue in Chehalis, according to police. She said she saw people picking up money and she was able to collect what remained, according to police. She also found an envelope in the lot marked with a dollar amount that it may have been in, Chehalis Police Department spokesperson Linda Bailey said. The difference in the amount she found and the number on the envelope is roughly $200, according to police. Bailey is hoping the owner can contact the office and describe the envelope and how much they lost so it can be returned.

BREAK-IN AT GAME STOP

• Chehalis police responded about 4:45 a.m. today to a burglary at the Game Stop store on the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue. Officers are investigating and don’t yet know exactly what is missing, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

ASSAULT

• Centralia police took a report about 2:15 p.m. yesterday from the 1400 block of Lewis Street where an individual was struck with a metal bar, allegedly by an acquaintance who left before officers arrived. The case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Two men were arrested for disorderly conduct following a fight at a bar on the 500 block of North Market Boulevard in Chehalis on Saturday night. An officer responding to the 8:40 p.m. call witnessed one of them strike the other in the face repeatedly, and the men were separated, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Stafford P. Horner, 48, of Arlington, said Phillip N. Spruell, 72, of Chehalis, hit him first, according to police. Neither wanted to pursue assault charges so they were issued their citations and then released, according to police. Both appeared to be intoxicated, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said.

THREAT OF ASSAULT

• A 36-year-old Mossyrock man was arrested last night for allegedly threatening to cut his ex-wife’s throat, in a phone call. A deputy responding about 10:15 p.m. to Cinebar to talk to the woman listened to the suspect call her names as he phoned twice while the deputy as there and she put him on speaker phone, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.  When the deputy went to the man’s home, he could see through the window and hear the man on the phone, yelling and cussing at the woman, according to the sheriff’s office. Shane C. Goin was booked into the Lewis County Jail for harassment, Chief Deputy Stacy Brown said.

• A 26-year-old man was arrested for harassment on Saturday after he allegedly threatened to use a computer monitor to break an employee’s nose at the drug and alcohol treatment center on the 500 block of Southeast Washington Avenue in Chehalis. Anthony Balay Magana, from Grandview, was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

UNDER INVESTIGATION

• Chehalis police took a report on Saturday morning about alleged sexual misconduct. The matter is still under investigation, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

DRUGS AND THEFT

• A 30-year-old Winlock resident was arrested yesterday for allegedly stealing two boxes of personal checks from her boyfriend’s mother’s bedroom and using them on five occasions to obtain $690. Deputies investigating were able to get video images on Friday from the Cedar Village IGA store showing their suspect cashing a stolen check and on Saturday made a traffic stop of a vehicle in which she was a passenger, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Lucia D. Spross was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail on an outstanding warrant, as well as 60 counts of second-degree theft and the case was referred for other possible charges such as forgery and third-degree theft, according to the sheriff’s office. Chief Stacy Brown said Spross admitted also to a small baggie of suspected methamphetamine found in her purse.

AUTO THEFT

• A vehicle stolen from Longview turned up in Centralia yesterday, stripped and abandoned on the side of the road at the 200 block of Tilley Avenue, according to the Centralia Police Department.

CAR PROWL

• Morton police called about 8:35 p.m. yesterday to the 600 block of Main Avenue ended up arresting 22-year-old Jacob E. Olson for second-degree vehicle prowl and trespass, according to the Morton Police Department. An individual said they’d seen Olson getting into a vehicle in the driveway, but he left, according to police.

DUI WRECK

• A 45-year-old Onalaska man was arrested for driving under the influence after a deputy responded about 7:15 p.m. yesterday to a single-vehicle collision into a ditch at the intersection of Middle Fork and Krueger roads in Onalaska. Roderick D. Johnson was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, probation violation, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, disputes, suicide attempt, suspicious circumstances, misdemeanor domestic assault, misdemeanor theft, collision on county road … and more.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

DRUGS

• A 40-year-old Centralia resident was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after contact with police about 8:20 p.m. yesterday at the 100 block of East Fourth Street. Jason D. Bush was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, trespass, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, an 18-year-old allowing a 14-year-old to drive a vehicle … and more.

Ony fire department aiming for new building, doubling number of EMTs

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

The Onalaska Fire Department wants members of the public to be able to ask questions about a new main fire station in the works on state Route 508 near Alexander Road.

The property across from Brenda’s Country Market has already been purchased, newly installed Fire Chief Andrew Martin said.

A special business meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, at the current main station, at 244 Carlisle Avenue, according to Martin.

“We’ll have the architect here and they can ask questions of him and the board,” Martin said.

The department serves more than 3,100 residents over an 82-square mile area in Lewis County Fire District 1.

The building on Carlisle Avenue is about 70 years old and has been through a fire, and when they looked at putting a new roof on, it appeared they would have to spend some $90,000, Martin said.

The department will be giving a presentation also on Tuesday at the Onalaska Alliance’s meeting, Martin said. But the board may take action at Thursday’s meeting, he said.

Martin, a volunteer chief who took over on Jan. 1, said the department has 24 volunteers, six of whom are also EMTs. Five more are currently in training to become EMTs, he said.

The district has a measure on the Feb. 10 ballot to continue its same EMS levy to support the program, he said.

Property owners have been paying 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for the past six years, and commissioners would like voters to agree to another six years at the same rate, according to Martin.

Money from the EMS levy covers supplies for three ambulances and purchased the third ambulance they placed at Station 1-3 at 3030 State Route 508 to ensure faster response time for occupants on the other side of the bridge, according to Martin. The levy also ensures that the residents who are critically ill receive advance life support care, he said.

Also on the ballot, Lewis County Fire District 2 in Toledo is asking voters to continue an EMS levy that would collect up to 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for property owners.

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

VANDALISM

• Centralia police took a report about 8:20 a.m. yesterday of graffiti spray painted onto a building at the 1000 block of Mellen Street.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor  theft, collision on city street … and more.

FINN SAYS, ‘DON’T FUMBLE’

• Trooper Will Finn reminds football fans and others the state patrol will step up patrols this weekend, in an effort to eliminate DUI-related collisions. They will partner with county and city law enforcement agencies to remove impaired drivers from the roadways, in an effort to reach zero serious injury and all traffic fatalities by 2030, according to Finn. He advises people to be responsible, reminding it only takes a few minutes to make a plan that could prevent a tragedy with life-lasting impact. “Some good alternatives might be designating a sober driver, taking a taxi, calling a sober friend to drive or staying put until you are completely sober,” Finn states. The Washington State Insurance Commissioner joins the state patrol’s call to be extra careful tomorrow, citing some numbers from Nerd Wallet: The cost of a driving under the influence (DUI) ticket in Washington state ranges from $6,500 to more than $10,000, including fines, attorney’s fees, ignition interlock fees and insurance rate increases. Auto insurance may increase from $500 to $1,000 per year after a DUI conviction, according to Kreidler. Finn adds: It is important to remember, in Washington state, impaired driving is defined as:
• Driving while impaired by alcohol
• Driving under the influence of any drug, including marijuana
• Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or above