What’s news in the Northwest today:
BILLINGS, Mont. — Billings police say a man accused of sticking a pistol in his girlfriend’s mouth accidentally shot himself in the buttocks after he shoved the gun down the back of his pants. Court records allege 27-year-old Johnathan William Hartman and his girlfriend had been arguing Tuesday about a pending prison sentence for Hartman. The woman told authorities that Hartman stuck the gun in her mouth and threatened to kill her before firing a shot next to her ear. Authorities say Hartman apparently placed the pistol into the back of his waistband and the gun discharged into his buttocks while he was driving erratically.
Transient orcas hunting seals in Puget Sound
BREMERTON, Wash. — A pod of transient killer whales has been visiting Puget Sound this week. The Kitsap Sun reports up to six orcas were spotted Wednesday and Thursday near Bremerton. The Orca Network reports five of the whales were spotted Thursday afternoon near Edmonds. The transient killer whales are hunting for seals. The resident Puget Sound orca population feeds on salmon.
Feds plan action if Idaho wolves killed illegally
GRANGEVILLE, Idaho — A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official says law enforcement will take action if northern Idaho residents take the advice of a failed gubernatorial candidate and start illegally killing wolves. Meggan Laxalt Mackey tells the Lewiston Tribune that if federal law is violated, law enforcement officials will not stand idly by. Rex Rammell told a crowd of more than 100 Wednesday night in Idaho County that residents should organize a hunt and start killing wolves, saying he didn’t think local, state and federal authorities would interfere. Wolves lost their endangered status in Montana and Idaho in 2009, but were returned to the endangered list this year following a lawsuit from environmentalists.
Dying man’s parting (rifle) shots
KENNEWICK – James Kilgore Jr. got his chance of a lifetime to take a bull elk in the Blue Mountains this week. The 52-year-old Kennewick man shot his elk, with a 5-by-6 rack, late Thursday afternoon following a day of shaking the brush for prospects. It was a special hunt, arranged by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to give Kilgore what he expects to be his last shot at a big game animal before losing his eight-month fight with an incurable brain tumor. A longtime Tri-City resident and a crane operator for six years off and on at Hanford, Kilgore’s short wish list included taking a hunting trip while he could.
Judge rejects sentence in child’s BB gun shooting
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Cascade County district judge has rejected a suspended sentence that was part of a plea agreement for a man accused of shooting his baby daughter with a BB gun. Carmen Thane Gopher is accused of pointing the gun at his daughter in January and pulling the trigger. Court records say a BB penetrated her forehead, but she did not suffer any serious injuries. Gopher pleaded guilty to criminal endangerment in August on the condition that the state recommend a suspended five-year sentence. During the sentencing hearing Thursday, Cascade County Deputy Attorney Kory Larsen said the state was unable to prove that Gopher’s act was intentional. Gopher told police that he did not mean to aim at the girl, who was 19 months old at the time, and he thought the gun was not loaded.
Crowd questions Hanford Reach Interpretive Center’s value
RICHLAND – A handful of people raised questions at a public meeting Thursday about whether enough people will visit the planned Hanford Reach Interpretive Center to justify the $40.5 million price tag. But people involved with the project defended the value the museum will bring to the Mid-Columbia, saying it will draw crowds from around the region. About 70 people attended the meeting as part of the process of getting a permit for the project from the Army Corps of Engineers. Mart Young, a docent at the Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science and Technology, balked at estimates that the museum will see 65,000 visitors each year, including 20,000 elementary, middle and high-school students.
4-alarm fire guts 2 Astoria waterfront buildings
ASTORIA, Ore. — About 50 firefighters from seven departments battled a fire through the night at an historic cannery building on the waterfront, near the mouth of the Columbia River. They finally controlled the fire about 6 a.m. today, about eight hours after it started, said Tara Constantine, Astoria Fire Department public information officer. Firefighters were still putting out hot spots as dawn broke. She said it would be a while before investigators could start looking for the cause. The only injury was to a firefighter who sprained a shoulder, Constantine said. Both structures are on a dock, which firefighters saved.
Man accused of raping friend’s 11-year-old child
MISSOULA, Mont. — Authorities have accused 40-year-old man of raping his friend’s 11-year-old daughter. Roger Allen Roybal faces a felony charge of sexual intercourse without consent. Missoula County Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech ordered him held on $150,000 bail on Thursday. The Missoulian reports that the allegations surfaced after Missoula County girl’s grandmother told police she’d discovered that pornography was being e-mailed to the girl. An affidavit says the child told authorities the man molested her from August to December at her mother’s home, at a Missoula hotel and on hikes.
Oregon man charged with speeding with toddler in car
SALEM, Ore. — An Oregon man has been charged with reckless driving and reckless endangerment after police clocked him racing another vehicle at 120 mph with his 2-year-old daughter in the car. The Statesman Journal reported that 22-year-old Leonardo Diaz Lua was spotted by Marion County sheriff’s deputies racing another driver southbound on Interstate 5 in Salem around noon Thursday. Deputies said Diaz Lua’s girlfriend, Melly Saephan, was also in the car with him and the couple’s daughter.
Police say Nampa officer shot, wounded
NAMPA, Idaho — A southwest Idaho police officer was shot and wounded Thursday night in an exchange of gunfire as an attempt to serve a felony warrant turned into a violent confrontation, authorities said. Police entered an apartment near 4th and 12th streets about 6:40 p.m. and were fired on by someone inside a darkened room, and a Nampa police officer was hit by gunfire, the Idaho Press-Tribune reported. Officers returned fire and heard more shots as they were leaving the apartment, but no other officers were injured, said Caldwell Police Chief Chris Allgood. His agency is part of a task force leading the investigation.
4 sentenced as Missoula prostitution ring clients
MISSOULA — Four men have pleaded either guilty or no contest to being clients of an alleged teenage prostitution ring run through the online site Craigslist. Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech gave each man sentences of six months in jail and $585 in fines Thursday. The men accused of running the ring are 30-year-old University of Montana student Richard Carpita and his roommate, 21-year-old and Anthony Brazington. They are accused advertising the services of underage girls in the “casual encounters” section of Craigslist.
Old pear trees falling on West Linn streets
WEST LINN, Ore. — Nearly 300 pear trees that were planted along nine streets in West Linn almost 20 years ago are not aging well. The Oregonian reports dying limbs have been breaking off and falling. No one has been hurt but the city has had to pay about $4,000 in the past three months in property damages, mostly to parked cars. City Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester says the city plans to being removing pear trees next year and planting new varieties. The city will pay more than $50,000 of the $86,000 price tag. Residents will be billed about $300 a household.
Tester’s forest bill likely dead this Congress
HELENA, Mont. — U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s bill to increase both logging and wilderness areas appears to be dead this Congress after the Senate abandoned a huge catchall spending measure that included it. Tester’s bill was added to the legislation Tuesday, but Democrats controlling the Senate abandoned the spending measure late Thursday after an outcry from conservatives who complained it was stuffed with more than $8 billion in pet projects known as earmarks. The measure combined nearly $1.3 trillion worth of unfinished budget work. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will work with Republican leader Mitch McConnell to produce a bill to keep the federal government running into early next year.