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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for June 2013

Email secrecy costs Shoreline over $500k

SEATTLE (AP) — The city of Shoreline's failure to turn over email records in response to a Public Records Act request is costing it nearly $539,000.

King County Superior Court Judge Monica Benton on Friday ordered the city to pay more than $438,000 in attorney costs and fees, in addition to the $100,000 officials already agreed to pay to the plaintiffs, Beth and Doug O'Neill.

The nearly seven-year dispute began at a September 2006 City Council meeting in which then-Deputy Mayor Maggie Fimia read aloud an email she said she had received from Beth O'Neill. O'Neill didn't send the message, so she filed a records request to see who did.

Before handing it over, Fimia removed the part of the email that indicated the sender. And then she deleted the email itself.

The case went up to the state Supreme Court, which ruled that email “metadata” — data about data itself, in this case the “from” field — is public under the law.

The Seattle Times reports (http://is.gd/V4jILt ) that Shoreline spokesman Eric Bratton said the city is disappointed in the ruling and evaluating its options.

Playing the Ozzie card

A chosen tactic of outgoing leaders in the Spokane Police Department: talk highly about the sheriff’s plan for regionalizing police forces.

Documents recently released from last December’s investigation into reports that former Assistant Police Chief Scott Stephens had threatened to go “postal” after hearing of his impending demotion contain a line from a “confidante and friend” of Stephens describing the tactic.

In her account of Stephens’ behavior the day he’s alleged to have made the threats, Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said Stephens told her he “wanted to talk to Sheriff Knezovich about becoming his undersheriff. [Stephens] said he would push the sheriff for a regional agency and be a part of that team. (This was very similar to previous Chief Kirkpatrick’s ‘threats’ when she was leaving her position a year ago.)”

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, however, said it's news to him.

“I never had those conversations,” Knezovich said Thursday. “I feel honored that they felt that way, that they wouldn’t mind working for me. But I didn’t talk to them.”

For her part, former Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said in an email Thursday that as the department continued to lose credibility with the public over various misbehavior, she told officers that “if they did not start taking control of themselves … then a good argument could be made for the Sheriff's Office to take over the police department and become a regionalized force under the Sheriff and I would advocate for it.”

Kirkpatrick, now working as the chief deputy sheriff in King County, said she assumed this potential advocacy for regionalization “is the ‘threat’ Officer DeRuwe is referencing.”

Suspect describes Oregon coastal killings, meth use

COQUILLE, Ore. (AP) — A Douglas County man accused of aggravated murder has testified he was using methamphetamine throughout a weekend family trip to the coast and was feeling paranoid before shooting his mother-in-law’s 19-year-old husband and her 70-year-old former husband.

The World of Coos Bay reports that Timothy Henson of Myrtle Creek took the stand Tuesday.

He testified that he’d been in confrontations all weekend with Milton Leach, the former husband of 47-year-old Ruth Micheaux.

He’s accused of killing Leach and George Micheaux III on U.S. 101 north of Bandon in September.

Henson testified, in his words: “I didn’t know who was on my side and who wasn’t.”

Henson’s wife was injured in the gunfire but survived.

Beware callers offering to fix computer

The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash. (MCT)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (MCT Reigional News) — Katrina Wegner admits she felt naive after she was duped by a man who hacked into her computer over the phone last week.

The Vancouver resident got a call from a man claiming to be with Microsoft support who said her computer was running slowly and sending out error reports. Her caller ID showed a number from Ontario, Canada.

At first, he seemed legitimate. Having just sent her Windows 8 phone to the Nokia store for repairs, she thought they might have found a problem with computer since the two sync.

He walked her through steps to remotely gain access to her computer - having her type in codes and commands. She gave her IP address and computer ID.

“The way that he got into my computer seemed really official,” Wegner said.

From there, he pulled up her notebook and typed in prices for a program that he said prevented hackers from entering her computer. When she told him she didn’t have enough money for the program, she saw the cursor move toward the webcam. She couldn’t move the cursor and told him someone was accessing her webcam. He softly chuckled.

“That freaks me out,” Wegner said. “Some people just have no respect for other people’s property.”

She asked for his phone number and he recited her own number back to her, at which point she pulled the battery out of her computer and hung up.

She contacted HP, the company that made her computer, and scraped up $170 to have her computer cleaned. She changed bank passwords, computer passwords and her phone number for some peace of mind.

Microsoft advises customers to not trust unsolicited callers or give out personal information. When someone claiming to be from Microsoft support calls, asking for a fee or subscription for the “service,” take down the caller’s information, hang up and report it to local authorities. You should never give them control of your computer or financial information.

The tech giant waits for customers to call with questions and issues. Only in certain circumstances do the tech giants call customers to fix a problem; to fix a malware-infected computer, the call is made by someone with whom you can verify you are already a customer. And they won’t charge anything.

Scammers may also reach out to potential victims in a more low-tech way.

Mary Flaherty, who lives in a Vancouver retirement facility, recently received a postcard in the mail that said she had won $100 in rebates at either Walmart or Target. She called the number on the postcard, and a man with a foreign accent answered. He asked for her credit or debit card information, at which point Flaherty hung up.

She’s concerned that scammers may consider elderly people an easier target.

Butte man arrested for impersonating officer

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Police in Butte have arrested a man on suspicion of impersonating a public servant, driving under the influence and reckless driving.

The Montana Standard reports (http://bit.ly/14XV7dy ) 47-year-old James S. Richards Sr. of Butte was arrested Tuesday and remained jailed Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors allege Richards was driving recklessly on Interstate 90 near Ramsay Tuesday afternoon and forced another vehicle to pull over. The four people in the vehicle said Richards confronted them and claimed to be a member of a drug task force before leaving the scene without further incident.

They called 911.

A police patrol car stopped a pickup truck matching the description of the one that forced the vehicle off the road. The officer determined that Richards was intoxicated.

Suspect identified in Warden shooting

WARDEN, Wash. (MCT Regional News) — Grant County authorities are searching for Ramon O. Morfin in connection to the shooting Sunday night in Warden that left two injured.

Warden police have an arrest warrant for Morfin, 19, on suspicion of two counts of first degree assault. Morfin is about five feet six inches tall and reportedly has a tattoo on the right side of his forehead reading “F13,” related to the Florencia 13 street gang, according to the sheriff’s office.

The two victims shot in Warden were also identified Monday.

LaShawne Bethea, 31, was shot in the leg and back after allegedly getting into a verbal altercation with Morfin at an apartment complex at 800 S. County Rd. in Warden about 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Morfin pulled out a handgun, allegedly shooting the intended victim, LaShawne Bethea, 31, in the leg and back. The other victim, identified as Derek Duplichan, 20, was struck by a stray bullet in the leg during the altercation. Both victims were treated at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake and released, according to Kyle Foreman, of the Sheriff’s Office.

Morfin reportedly fled the scene following the incident and is still at large.

Anyone who knows where Morfin is should contact the Warden Police Department at 509-762-1160.

Fireworks cause death, destruction in 2012

Boys will be boys, as the saying goes.

Males between 8 and 21 years old were responsible for most of the 354 fireworks-related incidents reported in 2012, according to data released by the Washington State Fire Marshal's Office.

In all, there were 128 fires and 226 injuries, including 11 amputations and one death. The data come from reports submitted to the state Fire Marshal’s Office by fire departments and hospital emergency rooms.

One celebration turned deadly when a 61-one-year-old Richland, Wash. man was killed after attempting to relight an illegally obtained, professional display firework that failed to go off. Upon inspecting it and relighting it, the shell exploded, hitting him in the upper body and head.

In all, illegal fireworks were to blame for 26 fires and 64 injuries statewide last year around the holiday. The majority of incidents occurred on July 4. Most injuries occurred while a person held a firework in their hand, stood too close to lit fireworks, or leaned over fireworks.

Seven sparkler bomb incidents were reported, including two fires or explosions that caused facial, torso and hand injuries. Sparkler bombs are considered improvised explosive devices, which are illegal to manufacture or posses, said Lysandra Trejo, deputy state fire marshal.

Misuse of fireworks also damaged property. Seven residential fires accounted for $880,500 loss.

With another Independence Day just around the corner, authorities are reminding the public to stay safe.

Supervision of children 14 and under is critical in reducing emergency responses to fireworks incidents, Trejo said in a news release.

“Talk to your kids about fireworks and safety,” Trejo said. “Set family boundaries. Only adults should light fireworks.”

She added that fireworks should be stored in a secure location out of the reach and sight of curious children.

“Personal fireworks require personal responsibility,” she said.

She said those lighting fireworks should remember the three Bs of fireworks safety:

Be prepared – have water nearby and put pets indoors.

Be safe – only adults should light fireworks and,

Be responsible – clean up firework debris.

Keep an eye out for a listing of local fireworks laws in The Spokesman-Review on Monday.

More information about fireworks safety, public fireworks displays and the fireworks laws for your area also can be found at the Celebrate Safely website, www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/fireworks.htm

Monroe woman charged with felony impersonation

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A Monroe woman who pretended to be the mother of her teenage son’s friend to help him skip school is facing a felony charge.

Snohomish County prosecutors have charged 32-year-old Jackie Sevillano with criminal impersonation. They say she called school officials May 4, claiming to be another boy’s mother and saying he was not in class because he had a doctor’s appointment.

School officials suspected a ruse and called the boy’s parents. Police tracked down both boys who were playing hooky and found they had been smoking marijuana.

The Daily Herald reports (http://bit.ly/15CumZ9) Sevillano was charged with a felony after she rejected an offer from prosecutors to plead guilty to a misdemeanor impersonation charge.

Brother arrested in man’s slaying near Colville

COLVILLE, Wash. (AP) — The Stevens County sheriff’s office says deputies arrested 48-year-old Eric Harris on Monday night for investigation of murder in the shooting death of his 43-year-old brother Larch Harris at a home near Colville.

The sheriff’s office says the shooting took place Sunday as the brothers were arguing over a horse saddle. Their father recently died and they disagreed over the estate.

Man dies after Oregon police use pepper spray, taser

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — The Douglas County sheriff’s office says a man police arrested by using a stun gun and pepper spray has died.

The sheriff’s department said in a statement Monday two officers from the Roseburg police were trying to take the man into custody Saturday afternoon because he was jumping on vehicles near the Douglas County Courthouse.

The officers said the man wouldn’t comply, and soon after the use of the stun gun and spray he had what the sheriff’s office called “a medical emergency” and died.

An autopsy is planned this week. The sheriff’s office said it would lead an investigation.

The man’s identity was withheld until his relatives are notified.

Woman arrested in death of Sunnyside man

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Yakima County sheriff’s detectives have arrested a 20-year-old woman in the death of a 23-year-old Sunnyside man whose body was found Friday in the trunk of his girlfriend’s car on the Yakama Nation reservation.

The sheriff’s office says the suspect was tracked through phone records.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports (http://bit.ly/1a73LKw ) the sheriff’s office hasn’t said whether the woman arrested is the girlfriend.

Alberto Gabriel Martinez was last seen alive on Thursday night. The autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

2 men wounded in Warden shooting

WARDEN, Wash. (AP) — The Grant County sheriff’s office says two men were wounded in a shooting Sunday night at an apartment complex in Warden.

Two men were arguing when one pulled out a gun and wounded the other man and a bystander. The sheriff’s office says the injuries are not life-threatening.

The suspect fled and police are looking for him.

Colville shooter still at large

A man who allegedly shot his brother to death in Colville is still at large today.

Eric Harris, 48, is being sought by Stevens County sheriff’s deputies in connection with an early Sunday fight that left his brother, 43-year-old Larch Harris dead from a gunshot wound, authorities said.

When deputies arrived at Eric Harris’ home where witnesses reported the shooting occurred, the suspect had already left, according to the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies are hoping to obtain a warrant for Eric Harris’ arrest, said Sgt. Loren Erdman with the sheriff’s office. Harris has an extensive criminal history, including several reports of assault, Erdman said.

“It’s definitely a possibility that he’s dangerous,” he said. “We haven’t found the weapon he had, so there’s a possibility he’s armed.”

Eric Harris is 5-foot-5 and 170 pounds. He has brown hair, hazel eyes and several tattoos. Anyone with information about his location is asked to call 911 or the Stevens County sheriff’s dispatch at (509) 684-5296.

Victim chases his own stolen car

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (MCT Regional News) — Three people were arrested after a citizen-led car chase west of College Place on Friday. One man was arrested on an unrelated warrant after alleged car thieves hid in a residence the man was staying at.

According to Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office reports, deputies responded to a dispatch report of a man following his own 1984 pickup, which he claimed had just been stolen about 3:45 p.m. on Friday. German Graves-Aguirre said he was following the truck at high speeds on Old Highway 12, south onto Last Chance Road, then east onto Mission Road.

 

According Graves-Aguirre the truck stopped near 711 Mission Road, and a man fled the vehicle, leaving a woman in the truck. College Place police arrived, and took the woman, identified as Lindsey Young, 30, into custody. When questioned about the driver of the vehicle, Young claimed she didn’t know who he was.

 

When deputies arrived they contacted the owners of the house at 711 Mission Road, and obtained permission to search the premises. Rudolfo R. Ceja, 30, came out of the house and surrendered to deputies on a warrant not related to the car chase.

 

Deputies then surrounded the home and Deputy Dale Preas stated that if no one came out of hiding he would deploy his K-9 to search the residence, according to the reports. Joaquin Jaimes Rogel, 29, then left his hiding place in the home’s garage and surrendered to deputies without incident.

 

Jaimes Rogel was arrested on investigation of possession of a stolen vehicle and second-degree burglary. Young was arrested on investigation of possession of stolen vehicle and possession of a methamphetamine pipe.

State Fire Marshal warns that buying fireworks online is illegal

As the Fourth of July approaches, state Fire Marshal Charles Duffy is reminding people that purchasing fireworks online is illegal within the state of Washington.

Approved fireworks can only be purchased from a licensed fireworks dealer during the legal sales period, which can vary depending on local ordinances. The use of websites such as Craigslist to acquire fireworks also is forbidden.

Violating the state’s firework laws can incur a penalty ranging from a warning to a $1000 fine based on the severity of the circumstances.

Scammers claiming to be court collectors

Authorities are warning of con artists posing as debt collectors who dupe their victims into thinking they’ve got unpaid court fines that could lead to their arrests unless settled immediately.
According to the state Attorney General’s Office, the scammers are claiming to represent various courts located across Washington state and demanding that money be wired to them in order to prevent their arrests. Officials believe the scammers are setting their phone ID to make it appear they are calling from official court offices.
The Attorney General’s Office advises that courts never call people to collect debts and that courts discourage people from wiring money.

Ninja weaponry found at drug and car theft bust near Newport

A raid on a suspected car theft and marijuana-growing operation in rural Pend Oreille County earlier this week revealed the suspects may have been planning some unconventional self-defense.

Court documents show several anticipated items turned up in the search, which was conducted in conjunction with U.S. Border Patrol agents and the Spokane County Sheriff's SWAT team. Drug paraphernalia, large quantities of cash and an unspecified number of marijuana plants.

The throwing stars, however, seemed out of place with the modern ballistic weapons authorities unearthed. 

Agencies raided the property southwest of Newport after a suspect in a car theft detailed a stolen parts for drugs operation taking place in the area. Neighbors reported the clamor of bulldozers at all hours of the night followed by trailers pulling crushed cars from the property.

Two men were arrested in the raid. The search warrant authorizes authorities to search Walter Randall Todd, who was reported as out of custody from the Pend Oreille County jail on Thursday.

Book ‘em Davo

Spokane Mayor David Condon fired the first shots today on the Spokane Police Academy's new rifle range.

The new range, described as a first-class facility, was built primarily with free student labor as part of a carpentry apprenticeship program, the police department said. The police academy serves as a regional training site for more than 40 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as U.S. military active duty, reservists and ROTC cadets.

Condon, a U.S. Army veteran, was on hand as part of an official dedication ceremony.

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