February 16, 1995 in City

Suspect In Drunken Crime Spree Has To Be Set Free Victim Of Store Robbery Calls Release `Real Slap In The Face’

By The Spokesman-Review

Springdale Marshal Jerry Taylor had smoke coming from his ears Wednesday after having to release a suspect in a drunken crime spree because the man was caught a few hours before his 18th birthday.

Dawa Ortiz was about five hours away from his birthday by the time Taylor arrested Ortiz and another man on charges that they stole three cars, smashed two of them and broke into a grocery store to steal liquor.

“I found it very appalling that I had to baby-sit him and take him home,” Taylor said. “Maybe we ought to set the age of adulthood down to about 15. They all want to act like they’re adults.”

Floyd Pope, owner of Springdale Grocery & Hardware, called Ortiz’ release “a real slap in the face to me, the victim … The parents say they can’t do anything with him, and we turn him loose to their custody.”

Stevens County Prosecutor Jerry Wetle said he didn’t have enough information to charge Ortiz as an adult when he was arrested. But Wetle said he may be able to file adult charges now that Ortiz is 18.

Wetle also is investigating a new law that says juveniles who commit serious crimes must be charged as adults under certain circumstances.

Meanwhile, Ortiz’s alleged partner in crime, 18-year-old Edward Weincoop, was being held in the county jail Wednesday in lieu of $30,000 bail. Weincoop is only 20 days older than Ortiz.

Weincoop is to appear in court Friday on two counts of second-degree burglary and four counts of taking a motor vehicle without permission.

One of the vehicle charges involves a car Weincoop is accused of taking recently from his mother, and one of the burglary counts is for a Jan. 14 break-in at Springdale Grocery & Hardware. All the other charges stem from Tuesday’s spree.

Pope said he was awakened at 3:15 a.m. Tuesday by the burglar alarm in his store and arrived in time to get a description of the getaway car. Taylor put out a bulletin, and about four hours later tribal police found a car matching the description on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

The car, which had been stolen in Spokane, ran out of gasoline and was abandoned in John Vankomen’s driveway - along with liquor bottles believed to have been stolen from Pope’s store. Then Vankomen’s 1992 Isuzu Rodeo was stolen, and the Washington State Patrol later found it wrecked about two miles northwest of Suncrest.

The car sustained an estimated $4,000 damage when it left the road and rolled.

Taylor said Weincoop and Ortiz then hitched a ride to Nine Mile Falls, where they stole a 1987 Suzuki Samurai. Taylor said he and officers from the tribal police, the State Patrol and the Stevens County Sheriff’s Department eventually found the Samurai at a house on the reservation, near Ford, Wash., where a party was in progress.

Weincoop and Ortiz admitted committing both burglaries at Pope’s grocery store.

Pope said rocks were used to smash store windows in both cases. Two bottles of liquor were taken the first time and 14 more, worth $186, were taken Tuesday.

But the windows were the real loss. Pope said the first one cost $257 to replace and the two that were smashed Tuesday probably will cost more than $500.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email