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Kamiakin Apartments Shooting Raises Anxiety in Neighborhood

Kennewick police investigating apartment shooting
(Courtesy KNDU-TV)

Although the alleged shooter is in custody,   some area residents near Kamiakin High School have growing concerns.

28-year-old Daniel Lewis Vargas of Pasco was arrested in connection with six shots being fired into the D Building complex at the Kamiakin Apartments at 632 N. Arthur, across from Kamiakin High School Tuesday afternoon.

Witnesses saw a white Lexus pull up shortly before 2pm, and then the shots were fired into two apartments, D-105 and D-107.  Some of the bullets traveled into the walls into D-107.   Earlier reports that the two units were unoccupied were false,  Newstalk 870 spoke with sources who said tragedy was averted because nobody was home at the time.

They said both units are rented and lived in.  Using witness information, the car was traced to the 600 Sycamore block of Pasco, where a home was surrounded by police.  Four individuals were inside, but refused to come out.  Police eventually entered the facility and Vargas was taken into custody.    He is believed to the only suspect, and no others are being sought.   Police believe it was gang related.  Police didn’t say what type of gun was used in the shooting.   Sources told Newstalk 870 one of the bullets actually penetrated a stove in one of the units, rendering it inoperable.

Sources have told Newstalk 870  the suspect had frequently been seen at the facility before, that’s why witnesses were able to give a thorough description.  Information obtained by Newstalk 870 corroborates police reports it was gang related, sources say gang issues have been a growing problem in the area.    A number of  residents are growing concerned about the increase in crime in the immediate area.  Some have indicated they are going to attempt to move.

This is the third significant incident to occur in or near the apartment complex in less than two months.    May 15th, Newstalk 870 reported a Level III registered sex offender was found to be “flopping” or staying with a friend who lives in the facility.   Dilligent police work allowed officers to track 25-year-old Robert Lane Hammerly’s wherabouts and the issue was brought to the attention of facility officials.  Level III offenders are considered the most dangerous, and besides the high school across the street, numerous elementary age children live in the surrounding area.

Just a few days before,  a 32-year-old man was assaulted by three suspects in an attempted robbery which turned into a late-night street fight on North Arthur next to the apartment complex.  One man was arrested, two others are still being sought.   It was believed to be gang related.  Sources tell Newstalk 870 Kennewick police have been called to the area a number of times, and police cars occasionally been seen canvassing the neighborhood, looking for criminal suspects who were reported to be in the area.

In September and October 2012,  two burglaries were reported at the complex, according to Kennewick Police department crime maps.

In 2010,  two men were assaulted, pepper sprayed and robbed at knife point in the complex parking lot while visiting friends at the facility.  Their car was ransacked, and two suspects were arrested.   In 2009, a 49-year-old man was arrested in conjunction with an arson fire that left four apartments at the complex destroyed and others damaged.

Different areas of Kennewick (as well as Tri-Cities) have experienced small outbreaks of incidents,  for example, a number of homes in a neighborhood being vandalized or broken into.  But  these are often isolated “outbreaks” as opposed to ongoing patterns.    While the amount of serious incidents at or near the complex is not staggering,  neighbors and residents are becoming concerned about the severity of the events in what’s considered an otherwise safe, nice neighborhood.

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