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Double shooting followed gang attacks

Spokane Police continue to investigate what they have called a gang-related shooting Saturday morning in which two victims were shot and two more had blunt-force trauma to the head.

The four were found at separate locations.

Two men have been charged with first-degree assault, but information in charging documents comes from a confidential informant and the victims have refused to explain to detectives what happened, according to court records.

Phillip J. Ruiz, 23, appeared Monday before Superior Court Judge James Triplet, who ordered Ruiz held on a $200,000 bond on the charge of first-degree assault. Officers also arrested 33-year-old Daniel J. Dublin on the same charge, but his court hearing was delayed Monday after he refused to be transported to his first appearance.

According to court records, Spokane police responded at 4 a.m. Saturday to 311 E. Liberty Ave. where they found 27-year-old Apolonio J.J. Saldana with gunshot wounds in the right elbow, the right thigh and left upper thigh.

Saldana initially told officers that he was injured in a drive-by shooting, but officers noticed multiple 9 mm casings and bullet holes inside the residence.

Saldana refused to answer any more questions, a detective wrote in court records.

A few minutes later, officers found a second shooting victim on the front porch of 328 E. Bridgeport Ave. That man, 35-year-old Tony I. Figueroa suffered two gunshot wounds to his lower stomach and one to his right hand.

Figueroa “claimed that someone drove by and shot at him while he was walking down the street,” the detective wrote. “He would not answer any other questions before losing consciousness.”

Both Figueroa and Saldana were taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Though initially listed in critical condition, they’re both expected to survive, according to court records.

While investigating the case, officers found a third victim, 34-year-old Jared B. Frye, at the intersection of East Liberty Avenue and North Addison Street. Frye appeared to have suffered blunt force trauma to his head and upper body.

Officers also found what appeared to be puncture wounds on Frye’s left forearm. Frye told officers he did not know who assaulted him and that “they” had taken his wallet, court records state.

Frye denied being at the East Liberty home and claimed to have no knowledge about the shooting or other victims.

While detectives were attempting to interview Frye, they learned about a fourth victim, 34-year-old Nicholas A. DeCaro, who had been transported to Holy Family Hospital.

DeCaro told officers that he was entering his apartment early Saturday at 220 E. Wellesley Ave. when three Hispanic men approached and struck him in the back of the head with what DeCaro believed was a handgun.

Court records say the three men followed DeCaro into the apartment, continuing the attack. DeCaro claims he was stunned by the blow to the head doesn’t remember what happened afterward.

Investigators believe one of the attackers was Saldana, based on the description DeCaro gave, a detective wrote.

DeCaro told investigators that Frye was a good friend and that he believed the shooting on East Liberty, where Frye had been living, may be connected to the attacks on them.

Ruiz, court documents say, told a confidential informant that Saldana and fellow gang members attacked DeCaro in retaliation for an incident that occurred a couple weeks ago. The informant relayed that information to detectives.

The informant said Ruiz described how he and Dublin learned that Saldana was at Frye’s home on Liberty Avenue. The informant said that Ruiz stepped into the home and that he and Dublin both fired at least three times.

Later Saturday, investigators found Ruiz walking northbound in the 7800 block of North Atlantic Street and took him into custody. He denied any involvement in the shooting but said he knew Saldana was a gang member from the Tri-Cities.

A man found with Ruiz, Curtis G. Stump, said Ruiz had visited his North Atlantic apartment early Saturday wanting to sell a 9 mm handgun that he had used the night before where “two or three people were shot,” court records state.

Based on information from Stump, officers went to the Royal Scot Motel, where Ruiz had been staying, and located a 9 mm handgun.

Then at 11 p.m. on Saturday, officers found Daniel Dublin in the area of Ninth Avenue and Perry Street and took him into custody. Dublin was carrying a .380 caliber pistol in his coat pocket and he had a barrel and components of a 9 mm pistol.

“Dublin did not admit or deny involvement in the shooting,” court records state. “He did say that he had an ongoing dispute with (Saldana) who he later identified by photograph” who apparently had threatened to kill Dublin in retaliation for another incident two weeks prior.

“Dublin further admitted that he was aware of his friend DeCaro had been beaten by Saldana earlier that day,” the detective wrote.