Already out on bail for eluding police, David M. Loreto had been linked by authorities to a vicious beating and torture case in Selah before he was arrested Thursday in connection with a drive-by shooting.
A judge set bail Thursday at $1 million for the 24-year-old Loreto, all but guaranteeing he will remain in custody while detectives wrap up investigations into the drive-by as well as his possible role in a brutal March 4 attack on fellow gang members at a Selah home on Taylor Road.
Both the drive-by and the Selah assault occurred after Loreto was released from jail in February on $50,000 bail after having just pleaded guilty to a felony eluding charge in exchange for a 17-month prison sentence.
For reasons that are not clear from court records, sentencing in the case was delayed for two months. Meanwhile, Loreto posted $5,000 with a local bail bond company and was released from jail.
Capt. Rod Light, a spokesman for the Yakima Police Department, described Loreto as an admitted gang member and “all-around bad dude.”
“He’s had a lot of contact with us over the years,” said Light, “and it hasn’t been positive.”
Court records show Loreto has a lengthy criminal history as both a juvenile and an adult, including convictions for car theft, malicious mischief, second-degree assault and residential burglary.
On Nov. 4, he led police on a dangerous high-speed chase in northeast Yakima; officers found him hiding under a tarp on North Third Street and booked him into the Yakima County jail, where he remained until February, when he entered into a 17-month plea deal but wasn’t immediately sentenced.
Loreto’s bail wasn’t automatically revoked despite the plea, and court records show he then obtained a $50,000 bail bond on Feb. 13.
Not long after that, his sentencing date of March 1 was postponed until April 1.
His status changed March 4, when sheriff’s deputies identified him as one of four suspects in a vicious drug rip-off at a home on Taylor Road outside Selah.
According to court records, deputies accuse Loreto and three other men of beating and torturing two fellow gang members with a propane burner in an effort to obtain money and drugs.
The other three suspects were captured, but Loreto managed to elude authorities until 1 a.m. Thursday, when a patrol officer spotted a speeding Audi A4 two blocks north of Lincoln and 16th avenues.
The Audi matched the description of a vehicle used in a drive-by shooting eight hours earlier, when a 25-year-old man was shot several times on West Pierce Street near Union Gap.
The officer immediately closed in on the car, leading to a high-speed chase across town that ended when the Audi crashed into an embankment near the intersection of Valley Mall Boulevard and Third Avenue.
Police said Loreto was captured on foot as he tried to flee. In the process, they said, he tried to ditch a pistol that was recovered and identified as a 10 mm Glock.
According to Light, bullet casings found at the scene of the Pierce Street drive-by were also 10 mm, and detectives strongly believe Loreto was the gunman.
Motive was not immediately clear. Light said the victim, who authorities have not named, suffered gunshot wounds to the legs and lower abdomen and was airlifted hours after the shooting to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Police said he has been uncooperative.
• Chris Bristol can be reached at 509-577-7748 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ChrisJBristol.