Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

Chehalis schools on edge as more threatening phone calls received

Friday, April 3rd, 2015
2015.0403.olympic.schoolsout7341

Fourth and fifth graders head home after school today at Olympic Elementary School in Chehalis.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Just three days after a threatening anonymous phone call to a Chehalis school, it happened again.

Twice yesterday.

Chehalis police were contacted shortly after 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon because a call came in at the high school which said only that the caller had automatic weapons, and another was made to Olympic Elementary School which claimed an attacker was in a second grade classroom.

Olympic doesn’t have second graders, only fourth and fifth graders.

Still, this afternoon, a police officer parked outside the entrance to the elementary school on the Southwest Salsbury Avenue at dismissal time.

Children boarded their busses as parents parked waiting at the curb to pick up others.

Tylar Sickel said he and his wife kept their two grade schoolers home on Tuesday, because it was an option they were given. There wasn’t a lot of information to judge the situation, he said.

But last night after learning it happened again, and reading the superintendent’s message, the couple was not too worried, he said.

“We figured if it was that big of a concern, the school district would have made it apparent the kids should stay home,” Sickel said.

When it occurred on Monday at Olympic, it was the end of the school day. Police came and searched the building found nothing suspicious. The school district used their automated system to inform parents that afternoon of what happened.

Chehalis police described it as a vague threat, with something about an attack, and not specific as to the date, time and location.

Police increased their presence at the schools in the Chehalis District this week, as well as at St. Joseph Catholic School.

Chehalis School District Superintendent Ed Rothlin today described the calls as using technology to disguise the voice and also hiding the incoming phone number.

Chehalis Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said there’s some kind of electronics involved and indications the call is probably a recorded message, not a real person. When the person who answers the phone speaks, it seems to activate the message, and if they speak again, the same message is repeated, he said.

Rothlin issued a lengthy memo yesterday for students, parents and staff that states Chehalis doesn’t seem to be alone in this. Two schools in Thurston County and two in Spokane have received similar recorded anonymous calls this week, according to Rothlin.

The superintendent said they take the calls seriously, but his memo also went on to offer parents a resource for evaluating for themselves what to do, and it ends with his hope they continue to send their children to school.

Attendance was about 60 percent of normal today, according to Rothlin.

Rothlin this morning was on the phone with school officials in Spokane. Their police department is involved as well, he said.

Kaut said at mid-day today, he didn’t know if Chehalis’s calls were related to the others. Detectives are still investigating.

“We’re following up on some leads locally,” Kaut said.

Rothlin described today the changing feelings through the week about the disruption.

“The first call we got, earlier this week, it was very scary, we just don’t get those,” Rothlin said. “Yesterday, well, it still makes us nervous, but we’re really angry, because of the disruption.”

“It’s just not a good thing,” he said.

Chehalis School District students will be out of school all next week for spring break.
•••

For background, read,:

• “Anonymous threat to Chehalis grade school increases police presence” from Tuesday March 31, 2015, here

• Chehalis School District’s memo from yesterday, here

• The report Rothlin referred parents to from the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Education: “Threat Assessment in Schools”, here

Onalaska illegal marijuana enterprise case headed toward plea deal instead of trial

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The Onalaska couple arrested in February for an overgrown personal medicinal marijuana operation are working on a plea deal, the details of which will be revealed when they return to court in two weeks.

2015.0219.arnolds.7095

James and Laveta Arnold

James L. Arnold and Laveta L. Arnold have been free on bail, but were charged with money laundering, manufacture of marijuana and possession with intent to to deliver.

Centralia Police Department’s Anti-Crime Team and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the pair late last year and in mid-February searched their property on the 200 block of Griel Road and seized 40 pounds of marijuana and 614 plants from an indoor garden, along with  cars, trucks, firearms and a den full of mounted animal heads, according to authorities.

The couple ages 55 and 52, have no previous criminal history, according to their court files.

The Arnolds appeared in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday afternoon where lawyers asked for a hearing at 10 a.m. on April 15 in front of Judge James Lawler.

Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello said he and their attorney have a tentative agreement.

“We have a working idea in place, I can’t really get into it,” Masiello said.

Police said the illicit business was generating approximately $136,000 per year, and that James Arnold admitted to  purchasing all or part of several vehicles with proceeds, as well as financing numerous hunting safari trips to Africa to hunt large trophy animals.

Whether the couple can expect to get back any property that was confiscated is a different issue, Masiello said.

Masiello said that is a civil forfeiture case, and he understands they are working on that with Centralia police.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Griel Road residents plead not guilty in marijuana case” from Thursday February 19, 2015, here

Chehalis man gets five-plus years in overdose death case

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Robert T. Lusk sits in between attorneys Thomas Keehan, on his right, and Erik Kupka, not pictured, in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – His lawyer assured the judge his client has taken full responsibility for his actions, for providing the heroin to 23-year-old Tyson J. Anderson who died of an overdose.

“Mr. Lusk learned something very important,” Defense attorney Erik Kupka said. “He lost a friend; he lost a companion.”

Anderson died April 22, 2013 at a Centralia apartment where he was staying with his girlfriend. She called 911 when she awoke after the two shared drugs, and found him unconscious, according to court papers. Arriving medics could not save him.

Robert T. Lusk, now 37, was arrested and charged last summer with controlled substance homicide. The Chehalis man pleaded guilty two weeks ago.

Even though attorneys on the two sides agreed about how much time he should spend in prison, they went into detail to Judge James Lawler about their recommendation yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.

Kupka told the judge he’d learned some about the heroin drug culture.

“People help each other in this culture, they help each other with their addictions,” he said.

When asked if he’d like to speak on his own behalf, Lusk stood and addressed the judge.

Nobody was supposed to get hurt, he said.

“It’s hard to explain how bad I hate heroin now,” Lusk said. “It’s tragic.”

The offense doesn’t include any elements of maliciousness or intent for a person to die. Only that one delivered the heroin to a person, that the person used the heroin and the person died from the heroin.

While the maximum penalty is 10 years, Lusk faced a standard sentencing range, given his criminal history, of 68 to 100 months of incarceration.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead indicated to the judge the lawyers believed the low end of the range was appropriate, because the same range also applied to individuals with more significant criminal backgrounds.

Lawler, when he prepared to decide the sentence, explained what that meant to persons in the audience. Present were Lusk’s parents, but not Anderson’s parents.

The judge said he knew the attorneys worked to make a deal for both sides.

“I will respect that process and follow the agreed recommendation,” Lawler said.

Lusk was given the five years and eight months, with credit for the more than nine months he has been held in the Lewis County Jail since his arrest.

For the deal, a charge of delivery of heroin related to the same incident was dropped, a charge Halstead said would have been “folded in” anyhow.

He was also given 364 days, with 70 of them suspended, for first-degree driving with a suspended license, to be served concurrently.
•••

For background, read “Heroin overdose for one leads to prison for another” from Thursday March 19, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

THEFT

• An off-duty officer spotted a male stealing a generator from a garage on the 2400 block of North Pearl Street about 3:20 p.m. yesterday, according to the Centralia Police Department. Police have a license plate number and are looking for the suspect vehicle, according to Sgt. Kurt Reichert.

THEFT

• Chehalis police were called to a break-in at the 600 block of Northwest State Avenue just after 9 a.m. yesterday morning.

THEFT

• An officer was called about 3:45 p.m. yesterday about a weed eater stolen from the 200 block of West Second Street in Centralia.

AND MORE THEFT

• Centralia police were called at noon yesterday regarding a car prowl at the 1100 block of Harrison Avenue.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license; responses for dispute, hit and run, protection order violation, suspicious circumstances, collision on city street, kids seen pulling up flowers at a park and throwing them at each other … and more.

Man fatally struck by train in Centralia

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015
2015.0402.train.mankilled.7337 copy

An Amtrak passenger train idles as detectives investigate the the death of a pedestrian a few blocks north of the depot.

Updated at 4:27 p.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CENTRALIA – A passenger train hit and killed a man walking on the tracks this morning in Centralia.

It happened just before 11:30 a.m. a few blocks north of the Centralia Train Depot.

The southbound Amtrak was heading into the station, and presumably slowing to make its stop, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Firefighters responded but he was declared dead at the scene.

Police Sgt. Kurt Reichert said he understood the man was on foot heading south, with his back to the engine.

“They saw the guy, they were trying to slow, hitting the horn,” Reichert said. “He didn’t get out of the way, for whatever reason.”

Detectives were on the scene, taking measurements and gathering evidence. Both sets of tracks were shut down.

Such investigations usually take two to three hours, Reichert said.

Centralia police cars were gathered just beyond the north end of Railroad Avenue off East Hanson Street, at the edge of the BNSF rail switching yard. The Amtrak was idled there.

It was not a railroad employee, Reichert said.

He described the victim as a middle-aged man, in his 40s or 50s.

“He appears to be someone we know,” he said.

Reichert said the point of impact was in between the Sixth Street viaduct and where the patrol cars were parked.

There are no public crossings of the tracks in that area, Reichert said, although there is a private crossing for BNSF just below the viaduct.

On average, 50 trains pass through the area each day, according to a BNSF spokesperson. Rail traffic was restored about 1 p.m.

This is the seventh death this year in Washington of a trespasser on BNSF rail lines, spokesperson Gus Melonas said.

 

Convicted thief held in break-in, fire at real estate office

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Updated

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The man arrested for breaking into a real estate business, stealing a computer tower and setting a fire before leaving just got out of jail two months ago.

Darren G. Waggoner, 33, was charged yesterday in Lewis County Superior Court with second-degree arson and second-degree burglary for the Sunday night incident that damaged the interior of the RE/Max office on Johnson Road near Caveness Drive.

Waggoner lives just up the road in the trailer court off Harrison Avenue.

Centralia Police Department detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald said they don’t know why the computer component was taken or why the fire was set.

“It was a crime of opportunity, as far as we could tell,” Fitzgerald said.

Firefighters called about 11 p.m. on Sunday to the building extinguished the flames quickly, and concluded the fire was started in some paper in a corner, and spread from there, according to authorities.

An arriving police officer spoke with Waggoner, who was standing across the street watching the fire, charging documents state. Police Sgt. Stacy Denham noted Waggoner smelled of intoxicants.

When detectives subsequently looked over security video, they saw a person wearing clothing similar to what Waggoner had been wearing that night, walk past Les Schwab carrying a computer tower, according to charging documents.

The computer tower – the case that houses the hard drive of a desktop computer – was found in some bushes about halfway between RE/Max and Waggoner’s residence, Fitzgerald said. A cell phone was found near it, but they don’t know yet who that belongs to, he said.

The fire department says damage at the one-story wood framed building is estimated at $10,000.

Waggoner went before a judge yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court.  The judge granted prosecutors request he be held on $100,000 bail.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher noted Waggoner’s previous criminal convictions; second-degree burglary and trafficking in stolen property in 2001, forgery in 2002, second-degree theft and taking a motor vehicle without permission in 2007, and then felony shoplifting near the end of last year.

Waggoner was sentenced to 90 days in the Lewis County Jail after an incident at nearby Rite Aid in November, where he headed out the back emergency exit with merchandise including two notebook computers, according to authorities.

His arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow. He is represented by Centralia lawyer David Arcuri.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Local resident arrested for RE/Max office arson fire,” from Tuesday March 31, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

EARLY APRIL FOOLS

• An 18-year-old inmate who said he was encouraged by others in his unit to engage in a certain custom for new arrivals at the Lewis County Jail, found himself in further trouble last night. Deputies responding about 8:40 p.m. to a fire alarm activation found the sprinkler head broken and water on the floor of Austin C. Courtright’s cell, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Courtright said he’d popped the sprinkler head by hitting it with his sandal, according to the sheriff’s office. He said he understood it was a tradition, and thought he’d only lose his recreational time, not get charged criminally, Chief Stacy Brown said. He was wrong, Brown said. He as arrested for third-degree malicious mischief.

DOMESTIC DISPUTE

• A 23-year-old Toledo resident who was told by a family member to stay away is wanted for residential burglary after he allegedly returned to the home on the 600 block of Mandy Road last night, walked in uninvited and head-butted an 18-year-old there. They fought, a 39-year-old resident woke up and made him leave, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies are looking for Kameron D. Williams, Chief Stacy Brown said.

THE MUSIC DIES

• Someone stole a drum set from the 100 block of West Pear Street in Centralia, according to a report made to police yesterday afternoon.

FRAUD

• Centralia police took a report yesterday morning of the theft of a credit card and its use locally.

POSSIBLY SUICIDAL PERSON FLEES UNDERGROUND

• Chehalis police responding yesterday to an approximately 3:30 p.m. call about a 20-year-old man having mental issues ended up calling firefighters to help them shine lights into a storm drain when the young man fled. He apparently got into a culvert where the opening was as much as five feet in diameter but narrowed farther along, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. Crews were on the scene in the area of the 100 block of Southwest Interstate Avenue until about 6 p.m., Fire Capt. Kevin Curfman said. Curfman  wasn’t sure where exactly the subject finally came out, but he had traveled underground probably hundreds of feet, he said. He was taken care of by medics.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for shoplifting, misdemeanor assault; responses for dispute, misdemeanor theft, hit and run, suspicious circumstances, strong smell of marijuana coming from next door … and more.

Meet potential new fire chiefs for Chehalis on Monday

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
2015.0401.final.chehalisfirechiefs-001 copy 2

The finalists are: left to right, John Banning, Ken Cardinale, Joseph Clow, Jim McGarva and Brad Paulson.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Once again the city of Chehalis has a group of fire chief candidates to interview and introduce to the public.

This time there are five finalists. Last autumn there were three and – following a nationwide search and extensive interviews – none were hired.

The five men being eyed to lead the Chehalis Fire Department are from as close as Tumwater and as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska. In the brief descriptions of their backgrounds shared in a news release from the city this morning, one of them is not associated with any city.

On Monday, the candidates will undergo a series of interviews with representatives of city management, the fire department, neighboring fire agencies and members of the community.

A reception open to the public is scheduled for that afternoon, where attendees can meet them and hear brief overviews of their backgrounds and experience, according to the news release.

It will be held from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the meeting room in the basement of Chehalis City Hall at 350 N. Market Blvd.

City Manager Merlin MacReynold selected the finalists.

At the end of the previous attempt to replace half-time Fire Chief Jim Walkowski, MacReynold said he was disappointed they didn’t find the right person.

Chehalis Police Department Chief Glenn Schaffer has been overseeing the operations of both departments. The Chehalis Fire Department last had a full time chief in April of 2013, when Kelvin Johnson retired.

The finalists are:

• John Banning
• Ken Cardinale
• Joseph Clow
• Jim McGarva
• Brad Paulson

Court grants officer anti-harassment order against 20-year-old

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
2015.0330.lowrey.orourke.rupert.mercer.7324 copy

Bo Rupert, standing, addresses Court Commissioner Wendy Tripp and witness Officer Josh Mercer while Officer Mike Lowrey, left, and his attorney Shane O’Rourke are seated in Lewis County District Court.

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – One might say it was a slam dunk.

A Centralia police officer seeking an anti-harassment order against a 20-year-old local man faced off in court yesterday, and near the end of the half-day hearing, Bo D. Rupert summed up his opposition.

Rupert urged Lewis County District Court Commissioner Wendy Tripp not to grant the order. But said if she did, she may as well put in a restriction that prohibits him from coming within 1,000 feet of Officer Mike Lowrey.

“Because I might be forced to make a decision I might not want to make,” Rupert said, in the Chehalis courtroom, to the commissioner.

Lowrey petitioned for the order on Feb. 13, after the discovery Rupert had re-posted photos of him and his family on a social media site, and had also posted his opinion Lowrey and two other officers should be executed for treason.

The officer, represented by Centralia attorney Shane O’Rourke, made the request as a private citizen. But he asked that Rupert be prevented from harassing his wife, his four children and himself, both on and off duty.

Tripp heard from Lowrey, from Centralia Police Department Sgt. Stacy Denham, from Centralia Police Officer Josh Mercer, from last year’s losing candidate for Lewis County Sheriff Brian Green, and from O’Rourke and Rupert. The 20-year-old represented himself.

“Your own witness said you were abrasive,” Tripp said. “You’re somewhat of a volatile personality. That comes across.”

Tripp noted the two sides described interactions that took place on certain days at certain places, but had little else in common.

It’s possible the situation that started Rupert’s upset with Lowrey, at Starbucks with Rupert’s nephew, was based on a mistaken notion, she said.

Rupert contended Lowrey got his nephew banned from the business, simply because he was related to him. Lowrey’s said he wasn’t working the day of the incident.

“You said you became extremely angry, because he involved your family,” Tripp said. “But you don’t seem to have insight, you involved his family.”

“You’re crossing a line, there’s no doubt in my mind,” she said.

Tripp decided Rupert could have no contact with Lowrey’s family, or with Lowrey when he is off duty.

“I’m not going to make an order that involves him as a police officer, I think that’s unenforceable,” she said.

Tripp alluded to the option of Lowrey dealing with any harassing behavior while Lowrey is in uniform in other ways.

The anti-harassment order would be effective for one year, she said.

What Tripp didn’t address directly when she spoke to the men at the end of the hearing, was Rupert’s videotaping of officers performing their jobs. The resident of both Chehalis and Centralia says he does it as a volunteer for a police accountability group called Peaceful Streets Lewis County.

Rupert indicated he planned to get an order against Lowrey. That he’s written a letter to the Attorney General, and that he’s going to go to the FBI.

Outside the courtroom, Lowrey said he is relieved.

“The whole thing is protecting my family,” he said.

In the same hallway on the third floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center, Rupert said he will appeal.

“I’m pissed as hell about it,” he said. “I’m just trying to show a lesson, you don’t involve people’s family and not expect someone to fight back as I did.”

Then he tore in half his copy of the order and left it, along with the dumped-out papers from his briefcase laying on the counter, and walked out the door.
•••

For background, read “Centralia police officer asks judge to order citizen to stop harassing him” from Thursday March 19, 2015, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

PROTECTION ORDER VIOLATION

• Deputies were called last night by a 31-year-old Centralia woman who retreated to her bedroom with her 2-year-old son when her estranged husband reportedly showed up to her residence, came inside, cut the phone line and stole her cell phone. The suspect, Paul A. Adamson, was in violation of a domestic violence protection order when he went to the home, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies were told she heard her sport utility vehicle drive away before she went to a neighbor’s to call 911, the sheriff’s office reports. Deputies located Adamson and conducted a traffic stop near East Summa and South Buckner streets and booked him into the Lewis County Jail for violation of the court order, Chief Stacy Brown said. The case is also being referred to prosecutors for charges of interfering with domestic violence reporting, driving with a suspended license and taking a motor vehicle without permission, Brown said.

BURGLARY CENTRALIA

• Centralia police were called about 9:30 a.m. yesterday about carpeting stolen from a business during a break-in at the 800 block of North Tower Avenue.

CAR PROWL

• Chehalis police responded to the 500 block of Northwest New York Avenue yesterday for a vehicle prowl over the weekend.

VANDALISM

• Centralia police were called about 10:45 a.m. yesterday to the 1100 block of Kresky Avenue about an ax through a sign.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, resisting arrest, underage drinking, open container in public, driving with suspended license, driving without a valid license, violation of no contact order; responses for alarm, vandalism, runaway child, suspicious circumstances, request for an officer to trespass an individual from a business planning to fire him, another fake $20 bill discovered to have been accepted by a business … and more.

Read about the real reasons Tenino police chief was fired …

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Tenino Mayor Bret Brodersen wanted to keep the change in police chiefs low key, out of respect for Chief John Hutchings’ professional reputation, he says, but given mounting criticism on social media for firing Hutchings last week, decided to share the background publicly.

In a lengthy news release issued yesterday, Brodersen lays out issues involving the city’s exposure to a significant financial penalty that could result in cuts to city services related to an audit from the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems and a conflict between the number of hours Hutchings reported working compared with the number of hours he was authorized to work.

Brodersen also describes recently learning the police chief added a paid reserve police officer, not approved, not budgeted for and in violation of city statute that prohibits payment. The un-named reserve officer collected more than $10,500 over the past few months, according to the mayor.

Hutchings was hired by Brodersen’s predecessor in the summer of 2012. He was terminated last Wednesday.

Brodersen said on Thursday it was a difference in philosophies; and that he planned to hire a new chief as quickly as possible.

The Olympian describes the firing as partly due to Hutchings generally overstepping his bounds and writes about Hutchings’ supporters plan to march on city hall and circulating a petition to reinstate Hutchings.

Read more about it here.

News brief: Local resident arrested for RE/Max office arson fire

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 33-year-old Centralia man was arrested last night in connection with the fire the night before at a real estate business on the 1000 block of Johnson Road.

Darren G. Waggoner was arrested at his home for first-degree arson and second-degree burglary and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to the Centralia Police Department.

Firefighters responding about 11 p.m. on Sunday to the RE/Max office on Johnson Road near Caveness found smoke rising from the roof and flames inside on the main floor. It was quickly extinguished.

Centralia police say security video from the nearby Les Schwab showed a person breaking a window, and was the same person a police officer spoke to at the scene of the fire. A computer and a cell phone were recovered and the investigation led to Waggoner, according to police.
•••

For background, read “News brief: Centralia real estate office hit with arson” from Monday March 30, 2015, here

News brief: Monetary part of judgement reduced for defendants in malnourished horses case

Monday, March 30th, 2015

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A Morton area couple couple won their appeal of a court order to pay more than $20,000 restitution for the cost of care, boarding and veterinary expenses for their horses seized by the sheriff’s office in 2012.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office confiscated nine horses from property at the 800 block of state Route 7 following an investigation into animal neglect, saying one was in such poor condition it had to be put down.

Joanne M. Simmons, 65, and Terry L. Simmons, 58, were initially charged in Lewis County Superior Court with six counts of first-degree animal cruelty and two counts of second-degree animal cruelty.

The couple accepted the state’s amended plea offer and subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree animal cruelty, misdemeanors associated with knowingly allowing the animals to live in conditions that caused unnecessary pain.

The Simmonses argued that the trial court abused its discretion when it imposed restitution for costs connected to uncharged or dismissed crimes, according to the opinion issued last week from the Washington State Court of Appeals.

The three-member panel of judges agreed the trial court erred and remanded for modification of the order to provide for only the costs associated with the horses subject to the pleas.

The couple was represented in their appeal by John Hays in Longview and Jodi Backlund in Olympia. Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Eisenberg argued for the state.
•••

For background, read “Former owners of Morton horses charged with animal cruelty” from Tuesday November 13, 2012, here

Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, March 30th, 2015

TEEN IN TROUBLE AFTER AIRSOFT GUN DRIVE-BY

• Chehalis police were called about 5:10 p.m. on Saturday after a man walking across the Chamber of Commerce Way overpass said he was shot at with a BB or a pellet from a passing vehicle. The 51-year-old Chehalis resident caught up to the pickup truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot and it contained three juveniles, according to the Chehalis Police Department. The case for a 17-year-old Chehalis boy is being referred to prosecutors for a possible charge of fourth-degree assault, according to police. An Airsoft BB gun was taken in to evidence, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said.

BARN BURGLED

• Centralia police were called about 12:25 p.m. yesterday to the 1600 block of North Pearl Street about a burglary to a barn. Taken was a hunting blind, according to the Centralia Police Department.

OUTBUILDINGS BURGLED

• A deputy was called to the 100 block of Mulford Lane outside Toledo on Saturday afternoon after a property owner discovered someone had broken in to several sheds and shop buildings. The loss is preliminarily estimated at a couple of thousand dollars, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The The 59-year-old Astoria, Oregon man said it occurred sometime since late last fall, according to the sheriff’s office.

ATTEMPTED BUSINESS BURGLING

• Chehalis police responded yesterday to a report from the a business at the 700 block of South Market Boulevard in which pry marks were found on both the front and back doors.

ARREST FOR ALLEGED SEX CRIME

• Centralia police arrested a 17-year-old boy on Friday following a report of a sexual assault of a juvenile he is related to, according to the Centralia Police Department. The boy was taken into custody and booked into the Lewis County Juvenile Detention Center, according to police.

AUTO THEFT

• Centralia police were called about 4:30 p.m. on Friday about a vehicle stolen by an acquaintance of its owner from the 1100 bloc k of Scammon Creek Road. The missing car is a 2010 Volkswagen Jetta, according to the Centralia Police Department.

VEHICLE PROWL

• Police responded after an approximately 11:35 a.m. call yesterday to the 200 block of William Street in Mossyrock by an individual who said that while attending a baseball tournament, their son went to their vehicle and found an unknown male sitting inside of it. The intruder ran off when the boy approached and nothing seemed to be missing, according to the Morton Police Department. Police are still investigating.

• Someone stole stereo equipment from a vehicle at the 1300 block of Oxford Avenue in Centralia, according to a report made to police on Friday morning.

• Centralia police were called about 10:40 a.m. yesterday regarding fishing gear stolen from a vehicle at the 1300 block of Alexander Street.

AND ALSO IN MORTON

• Officers contacted a resident in the 100 block of Third Street to warn them about a city ordinance prohibiting people from keeping pigeons on Thursday.

TODDLER SLIPS OUT, HEADS TO TRAIN TRACKS

• Chehalis police were called about 6:50 p.m. on Saturday after a 2- to 3-year-old child was found on railroad tracks in the area near Southwest Pacific Avenue. The father of the little boy showed up to a residence where an adult had the little boy prior to the officer’s arrival and advised he’d heard his back door open and thought it was his older daughter, according to the Chehalis Police Department. He began looking for his son and then found him around the corner, according to police. “He did not get a citation, no, but he was spoken to sternly, yes,” department spokesperson Linda Bailey said. The tracks were not the ones used by Amtrak, Bailey said.

AND MORE

• And as usual, other incidents such as arrests for warrants, shoplifting, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, driving without a valid license; responses for alarms, dispute, vandalism, trespassing, barking dog, misdemeanor  theft, suspicious circumstances, collisions on city streets, protection order violation, car stuck on railroad tracks, another fraudulent check received by a business, an unauthorized charge on a person’s bank card … and more.

Sheriff, prosecutor talk about changes in crime fighting efforts

Sunday, March 29th, 2015
2015.0325.roadshow.snaza.7280

Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza talks about some of the many of the new plans he has for his office.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

SALKUM – More than 30 men and women met with newly-elected Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza and Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer at a “town meeting” held in Salkum.

Snaza said it’s something the two began talking about doing a long time ago.

“We’re a team,” Snaza told the gathering.

Meyer introduced himself as the defense attorney-turned-prosecutor.

He spoke of successes with drug court and the new track for a small number of mentally ill offenders, which they call a mental health alternative program.

“For too long, we as a criminal justice system said we couldn’t do anything till they did anything bad enough,” Meyer said.

Wednesday afternoon’s event at the Salkum Timberland Library was the first of what is expected to be a series of meetings around Lewis County, to talk with citizens, answer their questions and listen to their concerns.

Meyer is just beginning his second term in the elected office. Snaza took office in January, after two decades as a deputy.

Snaza shared the prosecutor’s enthusiasm for new and different ways to get at reducing crime and approaching their roles.

“We’re not just here to put people in jail,” Snaza said. “But also to help provide help to people who need assistance.

“If you could save one person’s life, would you do it?”

The sheriff said he has plans for getting each deputy 40 hours of crisis intervention training and talked about the jail’s more concentrated efforts to address mental illness.

He introduced Special Services Sgt. Fred Wetzel, whose responsibilities include coordinating neighborhood watch groups.

And the new sheriff told the group that every deputy has been assigned a school.

“We just let the schools know, we’re here,” he said. “We’ll do presentations with them, talk about texting, social media, whatever they want.”

The two, accompanied by Undersheriff Wes Rethwill as well, spent almost two hours chatting and answering questions.

Among the concerns from the audience were the new gun law I-594, animal cruelty, trespassing, boating patrol, unmarked vehicles, drunk driving, police cars flying by without lights going and the number of patrol deputies in their area.

Snaza said they’re not sure when and where the next meeting will be, but said they are thinking of doing one more before summer.
•••

For background, read “Town meeting: Got a question for the sheriff, the prosecutor?” from Sunday March 22, 2015, here

2015.0325.roadshow.salkum.meyer.7265

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer speaks to the small gathering at the Salkum Timberland Library.

May trial set for boyfriend’s rampage with 22 rifle in Onalaska

Friday, March 27th, 2015
2015.0323.Todd.Bergfalk.7257

Todd H. Bergfalk, facing camera, waits his turn to appear before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court for a bail setting hearing.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A 44-year-old man who allegedly fired a 22 rifle towards his girlfriend as she ran away from him outside her trailer home in Onalaska over the weekend remains held on $250,000 bail.

Todd H. Bergfalk pleaded not guilty yesterday to two counts of second-degree assault. He also allegedly pointed the Remington 22 long rifle at his girlfriend’s 23-year-old son.

He was arrested on Saturday after deputies were called to the 700 block of state Route 508. Deputies reported Bergfalk was very intoxicated and emotional, rambling about abused animals and how he was upset, according to authorities.

He denied pointing the gun at anyone, but said he should probably just go to jail, according to charging documents.

At his first appearance before a judge on Monday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court, a defense attorney said Bergfalk was unemployed, so he qualified for a court appointed lawyer.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported Bergfalk and his girlfriend were arguing when he fired four rounds inside her trailer, and that he wouldn’t let her leave, but she finally made a run for the door.

The sheriff’s office said he fired approximately 10 rounds as she she ran down her driveway, and that some were fired in her direction.

Charging documents state Julie Schoonover ran into the main house and told her son what had happened, and he went outside to try to calm Bergfalk. The 23-year-old said Bergfalk pointed the gun at him and told him not to get any closer, charging documents state.

He called 911, and arriving deputies learned from Susan Bergfalk she had already secured the gun.

Neither charging documents nor the sheriff’s office indicated why he may have been upset, but the documents do state that Schoonover said when she first arrived back home after going out to look at a boat for sale, she found Bergfalk standing in the driveway holding a knife and yelling.

The evidence cited in charging documents includes a bullet hole in the mud approximately 50 feet from the trailer in the direction Schoonover said she ran, as well as more bullet holes in the mud just outside the trailer steps and numerous shell casings.

While he was arrested for first-degree assault when booked into the Lewis County Jail, the charges filed by the prosecutor on Monday were for second-degree assault.

Bergfalk has a conviction for misdemeanor assault from 1989 and at the time of his arrest, a warrant out of King County related to driving under the influence, according to authorities.

The sheriff’s office said he lives in Tacoma. He gave his home address as Onalaska in court documents.

No contact orders were put into place regarding Schoonover and her son. Bergfalk’s trial was set for the week of May 18.
•••

For background, read, “Boyfriend jailed after allegedly shooting at woman, missing” from Monday March 23, 2015, here

Shakedown at Chehalis ATM

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Updated at 11:07 a.m.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Police searched without success last night after the attempted robbery of a customer who had walked up to a bank’s ATM machine in Chehalis.

Officers called about 9:15 p.m. to the TwinStar Credit Union on the 1500 block of South Market Boulevard found the victim, a 42-year-old Chehalis woman, was uninjured, according to the Chehalis Police Department.

She said she was approached by a male who wanted money from her,” Deputy Chief Randy Kaut said. “The victim replied she didn’t have any cash, she only had a check; he took her cell phone.”

He was wearing a black and white bandana over his face, according to police.

No weapon was displayed, but she saw something in his waistband she thought was the handle of either a gun or a knife, Kaut said.

Kaut said it appeared from the officer’s report a relative of the woman’s was with her, but still in their car.

The subject was described as in his early to mid-20s, heavyset and about 5-feet 6-inches tall, wearing a black hoody, Kaut said.

The report also labeled the male as Hispanic, but said he didn’t speak with any kind of an accent. No hair or eye color were noted.

Police were told he ran toward the opposite side of the bank, where a car was heard speeding away; the victim saw headlights going down a side street.

A police dog attempted to track him, but nobody was found, according to Kaut.

Prosecutors gathering information from husband for wife’s trial in 3-year-old boy’s death

Thursday, March 26th, 2015
2015.0326.brenda.wing.crowley.halstead.7303

Brenda A. Wing looks on as her lawyer John Crowley, center, confers with Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead in Lewis County Superior Court.

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS –  The mother of three, accused with her husband in the death of a toddler who was staying with them in their Vader home appeared in court this afternoon, as lawyers continue to map out a path to her trial.

Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told the judge that Brenda Wing’s attorney was asking to postpone her trial a week, as her husband Danny Wing recently pleaded guilty in the case.

“That kind of changes things a little bit,” Halstead said.

The couple were arrested in November, a month after 3-year-old Jasper Henderling-Warner died from what the coroner calls battered child syndrome.

Prosecutors charged them with homicide by abuse or, in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter; each of the two were charged as either the principal or accomplice.

The autopsy found abrasions, bruises, facial trauma, healing fractures that were described as weeks-old injuries.

Danny Wing pleaded guilty last Thursday to first-degree manslaughter and assault, and as part of the deal, is expected to be a cooperating witness for the prosecution.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt agreed to move the trial to the week of May 18.

The lawyers set a date of April 30 for a hearing where they typically file a document that includes the expected length of the trial and other particulars. Today, they estimated it could last a week and a half, or up to three weeks.

Seattle-based defense attorney John Crowley said he needs the extra time, to review materials he expects won’t be available until after next week when the state conducts a taped interview with the husband.

Danny and Brenda Wing’s three children, between infancy and age 6, were all taken into custody by Child Protective Services the day they were arrested. Both Wings remain held in the Lewis County Jail.

No details alleging how Jasper sustained his injuries are included in prosecutor’s charging documents.

Yesterday Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer said they’d like to know what happened. Today, Halstead said he wouldn’t answer reporters’ questions about the facts in the case.

Whether Brenda Wing’s trial actually takes place remains to be seen.

Outside the courtroom, Halstead sidestepped the question if he is attempting to work out a plea deal with Crowley for Brenda Wing.

“We’re always working to resolve our cases,” Halstead said.
•••

For background, read “Prosecutor expects plea deal will help reveal answers about Vader toddler’s demise” from for Wednesday March 25, 2015, here