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Mid-Columbia wildlife officers under fire

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by twoclones, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. twoclones

    twoclones Tri-Cities, WA Well-Known Member

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    This is a pretty amazing story. Game warden has a gun held to his head, is threatened with a knife, and shot at over a father and son team of illegal Mexicans fishing without a license.


    Mid-Columbia wildlife officers under fire - Mid-Columbia News | Tri-City Herald : Mid-Columbia news


    Mid-Columbia wildlife officers under fire
    By Kevin McCullen, Herald staff writer

    An armed confrontation between a teenager reportedly fishing without a license and his father with two Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers underscores how perilous the job has become for those who protect the state's natural resources, officials say.

    Leadership of Fish and Wildlife's enforcement division said the July 17 incident at the popular Crab Creek area in Grant County could have led to injuries to one or both officers, or worse.

    One officer reportedly had a handgun pointed at his head before he convinced the suspect not to shoot him, and a second officer later exchanged shots with the 18-year-old suspect during a chase near Ephrata before the teen was arrested.

    It marked the first time in "10 to 15 years" that a state wildlife officer fired his weapon at someone, said Lt. Steve Crown, who leads training for an enforcement division that includes 105 commissioned officers.

    To Mike Cenci, deputy chief of field operations for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the incident highlights the peculiar dangers his staff faces in enforcing fish and wildlife laws over thousands of square miles. Enforcement officers frequently are alone during contacts with potential criminals.

    "From a policing perspective, we are encountering a rougher crowd out there these days," Cenci said.

    "Fish and wildlife policing is an inherently dangerous job, and there have been a number of studies done in the past that show wildlife officers are more likely to be assaulted than a city police officer or a sheriff's deputy," he said.

    "But from where I sit, it appears our officers are encountering more dangerous people," he added.

    Fish and wildlife officers in the past few years have arrested felons in illegal possession of firearms, found and eradicated marijuana grows on public lands, and discovered graffiti at public boat launches and restrooms at the Potholes in Grant County and a popular launch in Pierce County done by gangs claiming fishing spots as territory, Cenci and Crown said.

    Gangs have gravitated to some of the remote lakes in the Potholes region because local law enforcement agencies have clamped down on them. "So they have spread out to recreate, and, oddly enough, a lot of gang bangers like to fish," Crown said.

    Officers also have investigated scores of violations of the state's fish and wildlife, commercial fishing and habitat laws, as well as several incidents during the past three years of spree or thrill killing of wildlife by poachers, Cenci said.

    "Some of our worst poachers have criminal backgrounds. We are seeing an increase in significant crimes by some of these offenders," he said.

    Those trends appear to be mirrored nationally.

    There have been three shootings involving game officers in California in the past two years -- two drug-related -- and wildlife officers working the Arizona border six months ago were shot at, said Steve Tomac, a Nevada game warden and regional director of the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association. The association has about 8,000 members.

    In Wisconsin, a natural resources officer killed a suspected bank robber in a shootout in March.

    "We seem to be running into more criminal activity in remote areas," Tomac said. "It used to be a game warden rarely had a violent confrontation, and now it's becoming more commonplace."

    The recent confrontation at Crab Creek could have been deadly.

    Fish and Wildlife officer Chad McGary was checking anglers about 8:30 p.m. when he contacted Jose Juan Garcia Meraz, 18, of Mattawa, who did not have a fishing license, investigators said.

    As they walked to his vehicle, McGary heard a clinking sound in the man's pocket. McGary ordered him to stop, but Garcia Meraz shoved him, pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and pointed it at the officer's head, Cenci said.

    Garcia Meraz then told the officer to hand over his service weapon but McGary refused, Cenci said. The father of Garcia Meraz, Nicolas Garcia Godinez, 60, also approached the officer with a knife, Cenci said.

    "He (McGary) told the suspect no, he was not going to use his gun to shoot him. He told him he had a family and children and there was another officer nearby who would hear the shots, come and then shoot the suspect and his father," Cenci said. "He told him he would throw his gun in some bushes and he finally convinced him."

    Garcia Meraz then drove off and returned. But by then McGary had recovered his gun and arrested the father, who had a warrant out for his arrest, Cenci said.

    The son then drove off and McGary contacted Capt. Chris Anderson of Fish and Wildlife, who began a pursuit.

    During the chase, Garcia Meraz reportedly turned around and drove toward the officer's vehicle, firing shots at it and hitting it on the driver's side. Anderson returned fire, but neither man was hurt, Cenci said.

    Garcia Meraz eventually was arrested after his car stalled. He has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and is being held on $1 million bond in the Grant County jail. His arraignment is set for Monday, said Grant County Prosecutor Angus Lee.

    Garcia Godinez, who also will be arraigned Monday, has been charged with second-degree assault and was being held on $100,000 bond. Both men also had holds placed on them by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    "Our officers are quick thinkers and they are good communicators, and that is one of the things that saved Officer McGary's life," Cenci said. "By all indications these officers operated with cool heads and got themselves out of a dangerous situation and operated with valor."

    How the incident began highlights the unusual nature of a fish and wildlife officer's job. The vast majority of hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts they meet are law-abiding "and pretty good folks," Crown said.

    "A police officer who responds to a burglary in progress or a domestic violence incident can go in ready, knowing what's ahead," Cenci said. "But if someone is hunting or fishing and the season's in progress, how do you know?"

    Crown said Fish and Wildlife will use the incident in training to reinforce with officers the necessity of "changing the conflict quickly," to remain calm and be continually aware of their surroundings.

    "We will reinforce to our officers, 'Hey folks, there are no routine contacts. Every contact could go wrong, and be ready for that,'" said Sgt. Rich Phillips, who has served as the department's defensive tactics master instructor.

    ~~~~~
     
  2. slingshot1943

    slingshot1943 salem or Well-Known Member

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    There are many laws not enforced on illegal aliens, I guess they don't know how far they can go.
     
  3. BigBull 301

    BigBull 301 PDX almost Well-Known Member

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    Should have shot both of the dirtbags and been done with it.
     
  4. ArmedAmish

    ArmedAmish Sherwood, OR Member

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    +1
     
  5. twoclones

    twoclones Tri-Cities, WA Well-Known Member

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    Will the time come when we have had enough?
    In Tri-Cities, WA the newspaper stories make it look like 90% of our crime is committed by people with Mexican sounding surnames.
     
  6. pokerace

    pokerace Newberg Well-Known Member

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    [QUOTEIn Tri-Cities, WA the newspaper stories make it look like 90% of our crime is committed by people with Mexican sounding surnames][/QUOTE]

    It is
     
  7. Decker

    Decker My house Active Member

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    The Newspaper police logs are always enlightening.

    -d
     
  8. Trlsmn

    Trlsmn In Utero (Portland) Well-Known Member

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    It's only going to get worse.
     
  9. phathom

    phathom Vancouver, WA Member

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    And who doesn't? It's basically drinking by a lake with the off chance you might get free lunch/dinner :)
     
  10. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

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    In the Franklin County jail, 60% of the inmates have Spanish names. Almost 50% of the county's population is Hispanic. Disproportionate? Yes. But not like y'all seem to think it is.
     
  11. twoclones

    twoclones Tri-Cities, WA Well-Known Member

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    You didn't read the Wiki closely enough. Hispanic/Latino population of Franklin county is 46.67% of the "Other" category which is 28.98% of the total population or,,, Hispanics account for 13% of the total population and 60% of the Franklin County, WA prison population.

    Heavily disproportionate!
     
  12. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

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    Hispanic status is tracked without respect to race, because hispanics can be of any race. The vast majority in the western US are "mestizo," or mixed white/native, but that doesn't hold true for the rest of the country.

    My numbers are correct.
     
  13. twoclones

    twoclones Tri-Cities, WA Well-Known Member

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    I don't think so. But then I only have to look out my door to see the truth...
     
  14. ZachS

    ZachS Eugene/PDX Active Member

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    I'll trust the census bureau.
     
  15. 86-0134

    86-0134 north willamette valley Member

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    wow- big shocker! anybody else sick and tired of illegal aliens committing crimes, and milking our services and tax dollars to no end? we need to run all the illegal aliens out of our state along with their "anchor babies". i'm just so sick of this crap!
     
  16. Decker

    Decker My house Active Member

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    Because there's no agenda or fraud/waste with the census. Nope. ;)

    -d
     
  17. gnarkill

    gnarkill Richland, WA Member

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    Guess what, you'll be paying for them to have 3 hot meals, and a roof over their head for atleast the next 20 years of their lives. That's something they werent guaranteed in Mexico. They'll also be better criminals when they get out to boot! Isnt the average about 25K per prisoner, per year nowadays? So a million bucks in taxpayer money will be spent to incarcerate these two illegal aliens.

    They should be sentenced here, and then forced to spend the time in a mexican jail.
     
  18. RRooster

    RRooster East of Hippyville New Member

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  19. twoclones

    twoclones Tri-Cities, WA Well-Known Member

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    Go ahead and trust them but those numbers are from 2000. Since then large tracts of hay fields and sage covered desert have been developed. Thousands of houses, apartments and condos have sprung up. Wal-mart, Home Depot, Starbucks, grocery stores, restaurants, health clubs, etc all sit on what was vacant land in 2000. The population may have tripled since those numbers were compiled.

    I have 3 times been the victim of Mexican drivers without insurance. So have my neighbors when a drunk Mexican drove into their house! No one in the rural areas can leave their home unguarded near the end of harvest season without being burglarized. And down town Pasco, which is nearly 100% latino, is a dangerous place any time of day.
     
  20. BigBull 301

    BigBull 301 PDX almost Well-Known Member

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    Death penalty would be much more cost effective and do society a favor.

    +1
    No repeat offenders with that sentence.