Police say two arson fires are gang related crimes - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Police say two arson fires are gang related crimes

Sunnyside, WA - Tuesday, October 30th

Sunnyside Police says gang members are responsible for two arson fires early this morning.

One home has been badly damaged and a minivan was completely destroyed.

Yakima Sheriff's Deputies arrested two teenage boys with gang ties on unrelated charges, but say they are also suspects in the two fires.

But authorities are certain this was a gang related attack on rival gang members.

They hit two homes with molotov cocktails where police say known gang members lived.

The first one was on the 800 block of Taylor Avenue at a little after one o'clock in the morning.

Followed by an attack on a house on the 300 block of north 9th Street about an hour later.

The house on Taylor Ave did not suffer any burn damage despite two molotov cocktails crashing through the windows, but a minivan in the driveway was destroyed.

"Everybody was asleep except me and my sister and I heard something and decided to go upstairs," says Celina Casares, "My brother opened the doors to see if anyone was outside.  If he could catch whoever threw the bottle at the house."

The whole family was inside, including Celina's young son, but nobody was hurt and the house did not burn.

No one was home at the house on North 9th Street, but it did not survive the fire.

"This is the cause of kids being in gangs," says Ray Ramirez, "The parents end up paying for it you know."

The house belonged to Ramirez' brother.  He spent the afternoon boarding up the house since his brother had to work.

Two teenage boys are in custody right now for stealing a Ford Mustang and eluding police, but they are also suspects in the two arson fires.

Soon after the second fire, they led a sheriff's deputy on a high-speed chase, which ended in this ditch on West Riverside Avenue.

"At this point, there is no obvious connection," says Deputy Chief Phil Schenck of the Sunnyside Police Department, "They are definitely suspects, and we're going to continue to look at them as suspects.  But the only facts I can say is they were arrested in a stolen car."

Schenck says they also have other suspects they are looking at who are not in custody right now.