Police Say Someone Shooting Power Transformers Near Yakima
After a fourth shooting incident, Yakima Valley law enforcement officials and Pacific Power are offering $3,000 reward for details.
Pacific Power and police in Yakima, Grandview, Zillah, Sunnyside and Toppenish say since March 30th of this year, there have been four instances of somebody shooting up equipment, causing outages and disruptions.
Pacific Power officials say seven pieces of equipment, including transformers, have been damaged at a cost of $45,000!. The incidents occurred March 30th-31st, April 17th and 27th.
The shootings have all taken place at night, within a ten-mile area of Zillah, Outlook and Sunnyside. Each of the damaged units were shot once or twice, and evidence recovered suggests the shooter(s) is using .223 ammunition. Most of the bullet holes allowed insulation oil to drain from the power equipment, causing them to overheat then fail. Some of the units were damaged beyond repair.
Doug Butler, Vice-President of Operations for Pacific Power, told Newstalk 870 and the media Thursday:
"These crimes cost our customers and endanger our employees and the public. It creates an unnecessary safety and financial burden on our customers and we are taking aggressive action to stop it."
Yakima police Detective Sgt. Mike Russel said besides the obvious damage being done to the electrical grid, this is a public safety issue. He and other police are very concerned that somebody is going around "armed and with malicious intent."
Officials say anyone who suspects or sees anyone performing these shooting acts is urged to call 9-1-1 immediately. Anyone with any tips or potential information is asked to contact Yakima Valley law enforcement at the following numbers. All tips will remain anonymous:
Yakima County Sheriff's Office 509-574-2500
Yakima County Crime Stoppers 800-248-9980
Zillah Police Department 509-829-6100
Sunnyside Police Department 509-836-6200
Toppenish Police Department 509-865-4355