Bullets from drive-by shootings have riddled the same southeast Yakima home twice within 72 hours, sending two children to the hospital.
An 11-year-old boy was struck by bullets in shootings late Saturday and early Tuesday while his 9-year-old sister was injured in the second shooting.
Both children were treated at a local hospital and released. Their parents have placed them temporarily with extended family for their safety.
YPD has devoted its entire criminal investigations division to the case.
Now, police are calling on the community for help in learning who the shooters are and why this home in the 800 block of West Viola Avenue is being targeted.
“This family is being targeted, clearly,” said Police Lt. Chad Stephens. “Somebody out there knows something, and we need them to come forward and help us with this.”
The first shooting happened about 11:50 p.m. on July 4, when bullets from a car stuck the boy in his leg while he was celebrating Independence Day with family outside his home. He was treated and released.
The second shooting happened at 12:50 a.m. Tuesday morning — within 72 hours of the first shooting.
A barrage of bullets from a passing car pierced the east side of the home. The boy was struck by a bullet in the same leg he was previously shot, and his sister was struck by a bullet in her leg, Stephens said.
The bullet from the first shooting was still on the boy’s leg — he was awaiting surgery to have it removed, Stephens said.
Both were in their bedrooms, probably sleeping, when the shooting occurred, Stephens said.
“That easily could have been a tragedy,” he said.
Police found more than 60 spent shells at the scene in the second shooting.
“People slinging that many rounds in that neighborhood — it’s dangerous,” Stephens said. “I don’t remember anything like this before, when a child has been struck twice within just 72 hours.”
Late Tuesday morning, the neighborhood was quiet.
Bullet holes through the walls and a window of the neatly maintained home were visible from the street. Two men at the house were polite and allowed a Yakima Herald-Republic photographer to take photos.
However, they didn’t want to be interviewed.
Detectives arrived and spoke to the men.
Stephens said people in the area are afraid, and with good reason.
“This level of violence, I’ll say, is new,” Stephens said. “From time to time we’ll have a shooting in the area. Generally, this is a neighborhood that suffers from property crime, not violent crime.”
A woman outside her home a few doors down on the opposite side of the street declined to comment.
Another neighbor willing to talk didn’t want to provide his name.
He knew nothing of the July 4 shooting, but did hear shots of the drive-by shooting hours earlier.
“I thought it was fireworks,” he said, explaining the shots were in rapid succession.
He said he’s lived in the neighborhood 15 years, and that he’s never seen any problems at the house that was shot at.
“As far as I know, these people are decent people,” he said. “This is the first time this kind of thing has happened here.”
Stephens said his department saw an increase in violence over the past weekend.
“I don’t know if it’s because of the holiday weekend, but hopefully we’ll get it under control shortly,” he said.
Additional officers were placed on the streets over the holiday weekend, Stephens said.
A total of 21 officers and three sergeants were on duty between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. each day, he said.
“That’s pretty heavy staffing for us,” he said.
Police have some leads as to what’s behind the drive-by shootings, but want more information, Stephens said.
Police seek any video from the area and are accepting anonymous tips.
Anonymous tips can be reported with the Yakima County Crimestoppers at 800-248-9980.
“We really are asking for the community’s help in this,” Stephens said. “It’s going to take some help from the community to help us solve this.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated to say Chad Stephens is a lieutenant with YPD.