The sound of semi-automatic gunfire awakened residents of Valley Hi around 1:26 a.m. on Feb. 9. Valley Hi is located on SR97, just north of Peshastin. Several Chelan County Sheriff Deputies were despatched to the scene to attempt to locate where the shots were being fired.
At least seven different people called 911 to report the numerous rounds of gunfire during the course of an hour.
"It took close to an hour of check to find out exactly where it was coming from," said Chief Mike Harris, Chelan County Sheriff's Department. "In fact, during that time, while multiple deputies were on the scene, several people were calling in, helping to pinpoint where it was."
At 2:45 a.m., a deputy saw a muzzle come from a house and shots were fired. The house was surrounded and arguing could be heard between a man and a woman.
"We talked to a family member to figure out who was living there. We got some cell phone numbers and tried calling but there was no answer," he said. "At one point, all the lights in the home just went off. We didn't feel it was safe to go up to the house to make contact that way. So we decided to call out the SWAT team."
While the SWAT team was en route, deputies obtained a landline number for the residence. Harris said they were able to get someone to pick up the phone. One of the deputies, who is also a negotiator, was able to persuade the man to come out and give up.
He actually surrendered before the SWAT team showed up. Thomas Rich, 21, was taken into custody at 6:09 a.m. and charged with Reckless Endangerment, which is a gross misdemeanor. There were no domestic charges, because Harris said the gunfire had nothing to do with the argument Rich was having with his girlfriend.
"He was shooting out the window. He was highly intoxicated. They were having a verbal dispute over different issues, but the gunfire had nothing to do with the verbal," he said. "Deputies could hear two people arguing. He would stick his gun out the window and start firing."
The girlfriend was also highly intoxicated, Harris said. At least 30 rounds were fired during the incident. The lights went out in the home, Harris said, because apparently they did not realize the house was surrounded by law enforcement.
Five Chelan County Sheriff's Deputies responded, along with the 15-20 person SWAT team.
Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.