A 13-year-old boy accused of a shooting that left five injured at a Cinco de Mayo event in downtown Sunnyside has been charged with several counts of first-degree assault.

The boy police describe as a Sureño gang member was arraigned Thursday morning on five counts of first-degree assault in Yakima County Juvenile Court, where his bail was maintained at $500,000.

The Yakima Herald-Republic typically does not identify suspects tried in juvenile court.

The boy is accused of opening fire on rival gang members during a Cinco de Mayo street festival. A 35-year-old Vancouver, Wash., man and four children — including a 7-year-old — were injured in the May 6 shooting that prompted the shutdown of the three-day festival.

Police said none of victims suffered life-threatening injuries. However, the Vancouver man said he suffered a severed artery in his leg and that doctors told him he could have died or lost his leg.

Shaken by the public shooting, residents filled a Sunnyside City Council meeting days later to request that a gang intervention-prevention program that was defunded be restored. They also asked why police released a handful of juvenile suspects to their parents after briefly detaining them not long after the shooting.

Police told community members new state laws require an attorney be present when a juvenile is questioned, and interviews must be recorded. They arrested the 13-year-old on May 17.

Sometimes juvenile suspects of violent crimes who are under age 16 are tried as adults. Prosecutor Joe Brusic said that won’t happen in this case. The boy doesn’t have a history with social and juvenile services that would warrant such a move, he said.

Brusic said while the allegations against the boy are very serious, the court typically wants to see that the juvenile services have been nearly exhausted before trying a youth under age 16 as an adult.

“It’s a stroke of luck that no one got killed but we have to look at all the elements that make up the juvenile, not just the crime,” he said.

Under state law, juvenile suspects of violent crimes age 16 and older can be automatically remanded to adult court.

A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for June 8 with trial expected to begin on June 27, Brusic said.

Reach Phil Ferolito at pferolito@yakimaherald.com.

(1) comment


Always looking for a way to give 'em a ride by making excuses on their behalf as to why these crimes are not given full weight. And speaking of which, where is the parental piece in all this?

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