A suspected gang member charged in connection with a drive-by shooting said Thursday during his first appearance in court he’s being held on “trumped-up charges.”
A judge maintained he will be held on a $500,000 bond.
Aug. 6 security footage shows a red Toyota Camry pull into Self Storage of Spokane in Hillyard carrying several men with guns, including one holding an AR-style rifle, court documents say.
Those men left their vehicle and shot at a man who’d recently exited a black Chrysler 300. The target pulled out a handgun and fired back, court documents say.
Prior to the shooting, several witnesses told police a woman at the storage facility asked around for a “Samuel Aldrich,” who arrived in the Chrysler and at whom the men shot. Police suspect the woman was acting as a lookout, and gang members used a sale of car parts as a ruse to corner Aldrich.
Based on security footage, it appeared no one was injured in the shooting, court documents say. The targeted man did not call police for help.
Police gathered that the target of the shooting, a man whom they have struggled to find due to his lack of a permanent residence, had posted a car part for sale online.
He asked a friend, Tami Tedrow, to drive him to his storage unit, where he told her he’d sell the part to a man he referred to as “O’Neill” and “Little Red,” according to the account Tedrow gave police.
Detective Matthew Rose recognized “Little Red” as a nickname for Nicholas O’Neill, “a known Norteno Red Boyz gang member,” court documents say.
Rose compared footage of one of the men in the red Camry to body camera footage of O’Neill being arrested in May of this year, according to court records.
Rose said the front-seat passenger of the red Camry, holding a rifle, resembled O’Neill based on build, hair color and a tattoo on his left-upper wrist, court documents say.
In court Thursday, O’Neill said the charges didn’t make sense and pointed out that police did not find a gun on him.
“These are trumped-up charges,” O’Neill said. “I’m being harassed by the Spokane Police Department.”
Judge Timothy Fennessy said his concern O’Neill would fail to appear in court was “exacerbated” by O’Neill’s statement that police were harassing him.
Fennessy added that O’Neill might not want to cooperate with police if released from jail.
Fennessy said he agreed with the prosecution’s concerns and set O’Neill’s bond at half a million dollars.
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